After mounting pressure on CitySprint to initiate a pay rise in the same-day dispatch industry – it’s finally happened!

Following another surprise flashmob at ITV/ITN News on Grays Inn Road on 23rd September, the release of a new video by Reel News about our campaign (watch it here) on November 12th, and a huge Critical Mass on Friday 28th November, CitySprint announced that they would raise the rates in 2016.

The announcement came on Wednesday December 9th, in an email newsletter sent to all 3000 CitySprint couriers. It said that minimum pushbike rates would go up by 50p. This means that after CitySprint scrapped the lowest service of £1.25 (due to Union pressure earlier this year), the lowest rates were now the same postcode, £2.00 jobs, which would now go up to £2.50.

The IWGB immediately made contact with Jeffrey Ritterband, Head of London Operations at Scrutton Street to make sure this information was correct, and was reassured over the phone and in writing that not just the minimums, but EVERY job will go up by 50p. Ritterband assured the IWGB that CitySprint will implement a flat increase, a surcharge, on every job, from Monday 4th January 2016. It is clear from the newsletter that in order to facilitate this, CitySprint intend to charge their customers more, which is something they have struggled to do for years. Now the Union’s campaign has finally highlighted the growing plight of couriers, and the knock-on effects that unregulated, free-market competition is having on prices: a race to the bottom.

The Branch held an emergency meeting on Tuesday 15th December to discuss the raise, and decided that, in the spirit of good will, we would cancel our final protest of the year that was scheduled to take place the next morning outside CitySprint HQ in Scrutton Street.

Following this resolution, an email (edited by the Branch at the meeting) was sent to Ritterband to inform him that the protest had been called off:

Dear Jeffrey,

Thank you for raising the rates. It has been a long overdue change, but we are glad that you have listened to both your couriers and your clients, and have now agreed to implement a 50p surcharge on all pushbike work from Monday 4th January 2016. This change will make a huge difference to courier welfare, and coupled with the recent courier pack discount, will mean most couriers will now be earning the equivalent of the living wage (on average).

In the spirit of goodwill, the branch has therefore resolved to cancel tomorrow’s protest at Scrutton Street.

However, we are not yet fully satisfied that all CitySprint couriers (whether pushbike, motorbike or vans) will be earning enough to cover their costs as well, so we will continue to scrutinise pay and keep a very close eye on what couriers are making in real terms. Indeed many couriers will be investing their pay rise money directly back into their jobs – buying better anoraks, buying winter tyres, disc brakes etc etc to ensure they can more quickly, safely and efficiently deliver work. So we will continue to watch pay and conditions and campaign for the London Living Wage plus costs until our members are satisfied.

We are also going to continue keeping tabs on how many couriers you are recruiting and would like to encourage you to steer clear of circuit saturation. Our members are keenly aware of the impact new couriers have on their earnings, so we would like you to make efforts to value the people you have already, rather than continuing to hire indiscriminately. If you would like to reach an agreement with us regarding the number of new riders CitySprint wishes to hire each year, we would be happy to discuss this issue.

Lastly, as you said in your newsletter email last Wednesday, we would like to make suggestions, and help you, help us. There has been many calls for change in the way CitySprint operates over the years, but these have often fallen on deaf ears, partly because there is no structure in place to facilitate it. This lack of communication has led to constant frustration, time-wasting and ultimately loss of earnings for couriers. Now that we have an established Union branch, we would like to remind you that Union recognition and getting full Union accreditation could still be possible. And although it may feel unorthodox to carry out such an arrangement in this industry, it will benefit both organisations if we can open up a meaningful dialogue. Couriers have an enormous wealth of knowledge that remains untapped because they are isolated and treated with contempt. It will benefit CitySprint couriers if CitySprint continues to do well so it’s in both parties’ interests to listen to, support, and look after couriers. So please get in touch if you would like to discuss building a relationship with us, as after all, we work for you.

Enjoy your Christmas break and we look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes for 2016.

The Couriers and Logistics Branch

So, as yet, the Couriers and Logistics Branch have not yet suspended the campaign against CitySprint. But this is indeed, a huge victory for the campaign, and a milestone for self-employed couriers in London and the UK. It demonstrates that solidarity and unity can lead to victory – and that a focused campaign can yield impressive results.

As a result of the 50p/job raise, we are confident that the majority of CitySprint pushbike couriers will move into the London Living Wage territory (£9.40/hour), with an increasing number of couriers earning the equivalent of the London Living Wage plus costs (£11.40/hour). But we will be keeping a close eye on how things are changing at CitySprint – as there is still much to change – and we look forward to building a dialogue with them in order to further improve courier welfare.

To be part of the next phase of the campaign, come to the next two or three Branch meetings. These will be held on the second Tuesday of each month in January, February and March of next year. We meet at 7pm at 80 Lambs Conduit Street, WC1. All couriers and logistics workers are welcome.