• Declaration by Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) is the culmination of a campaign that first secured worker rights for The Doctor’s Laboratory’s (TDL) couriers in June

  • The IWGB has initiated £1m class action against TDL over unpaid holiday pay.

1 MARCH: The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has become the first union in the UK to be recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining with a company in the so-called “gig economy”.

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) declared this week that the IWGB is recognised for collective bargaining on behalf of couriers at National Health Service (NHS) provider The Doctor’s Laboratory (TDL).

The declaration by the CAC is the culmination of a long campaign by the IWGB that in June secured “worker” status for the couriers, who had previously been classed as independent contractors. This was followed by a settlement granting full employee rights to some of the couriers last month.

Unlike workers and employees, independent contractors do not have the right to form collective bargaining units, to the minimum wage nor to holiday pay.

The couriers that form part of the collective bargaining unit work for TDL carrying pathology samples to their laboratories, but also taking blood to hospitals for emergency transfusions. Over 100 couriers work at TDL.

TDL courier and IWGB union representative Alex Marshall said: “We were forced to unionise since every time we went to management with a concern we were being ignored. It is quite reassuring that we will now be taken more seriously and have a seat at the table to negotiate what we are rightly entitled to.”

IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “The TDL couriers have shown that organising and winning in the so-called “gig economy” is possible.Contrary to the Government’s empty platitudes about giving workers a stronger voice, the best way for gig economy workers to have a voice at work is to establish collective bargaining arrangements between their union and their employer.”

The IWGB has also launched a £1m holiday pay claim against TDL on behalf of 50 couriers.

The union has had a number of campaigning and tribunal victories for workers in the so-called “gig economy”, including cases against CitySprintUber and Addison Lee.

The IWGB has also been highly critical of the government’s failed attempts, through the Taylor Review and the subsequent government response, to address the issues arising from the increase in insecure work and has called on Business Secretary Greg Clark to resign. “Bad Job”, an in-depth analysis of the flaws in the government’s “Good Work” report, can be found here.

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Emiliano Mellino, Press officer