14 December: The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has revealed that Stuart, which delivers for JustEat, gave its highest paid director a 1000 percent pay rise last year as the corporation made an extra £20 million turnover during the height of the pandemic.
The revelation that CEO Damien Phillipe Francis-Xavier Bon took home £2,232,453 in 2020 is set to spark outrage as JustEat couriers working for Stuart enter their second week of strike action over a devastating 24.4 percent pay cut.
Despite promises to postpone made by Stuart following protests by IWGB couriers, base pay rates were slashed from 6 December on most deliveries from £4.50 to £3.40.
Last week the strike effectively shut down six McDonald's stores in Sheffield and is now taking off in Chesterfield and Sunderland as well. The majority Black and Minoritised workforce are backed by Sheffield Labour MP Olivia Blake and demand at least £6 per delivery plus mileage and paid waiting times after 10 minutes. Their strike fund has raised almost £8000 so far.
These developments come as draft European Commission legislation has promised to enshrine basic workers’ rights for millions of European workers wrongly misclassified as self-employed. The new legislation would move the burden of proof on employment status from individuals to corporations like Stuart. In the UK, the IWGB and Leigh Day are bringing a worker status claim against Stuart on behalf of over 150 couriers nationwide. Despite undertaking high-risk key work through the pandemic, Stuart couriers live on poverty pay, forced to cover all costs and denied basic worker rights such as sick pay.
Parirs Dixon, Chair of the Sheffield Couriers & Logistics Branch (IWGB), says: “Everything has gone up in the UK: fuel, gas, food prices. Even the minimum wage has gone up. We were already on poverty pay because we have to pay our own vehicle costs and fuel costs out of our wages. After working hard through the pandemic, Stuart is trying to exploit us further by slashing pay on most deliveries by just under 25%. Stuart should invest in its couriers who made it such a successful business over the pandemic rather than take money out of our pockets and handing it to pandemic millionaires. When they first came to Sheffield, they were begging for couriers but now they treat us as if we are disposable. We feel like robots. ”
Alex Marshall, President, (IWGB), says: “Damien Bon has become a pandemic millionaire by exploiting a workforce who are denied basic worker rights and now he is slashing pay by 25%. These key workers worked tirelessly 10-12 hours a day through the pandemic keeping restaurants afloat and delivering vital supplies to isolating families. Stuart’s profits surged 30% in 2020 off the back of their hard work but instead of being rewarded, these majority-BAME couriers are faced with pay cuts that will push many further into poverty. This is the longest gig-economy strike in UK history and it's spreading fast. These couriers are going to keep fighting until they get the pay rise they deserve.”
Olivia Blake, MP for Sheffield Hallam, says: “These workers have my full support. Savage pay cuts and broken promises are no way to thank couriers who worked throughout the pandemic to help deliver food to the people of Sheffield. Both Stuart and JustEat need to step up and take responsibility for making sure their workers have what every worker deserves: a living wage, job security and a fair deal."
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