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Longest gig-economy strike hits day 100 as Stuart Delivery boss admits to pay cuts in meeting

Fri, Apr 1, 2022, 8:08 AM
  • JustEat couriers part of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) have been on strike for 100 days after subcontractor Stuart Delivery cut the base rate of pay by 24% in early December last year.
  • During recent talks between management and union representatives, Stuart’s UK General Manager Brendan Hamill said that courier fees were previously too high in the company’s first open admission that the new pay structure equates to a cut.
  • Couriers forced to pay vehicle and fuel expenses out of their own wages have targeted high-profile JustEat clients, taking direct action against McDonald’s, KFC, and Greggs.

Friday 1 April: The longest gig-economy strike in history hits day 100 as JustEat subcontractor Stuart Delivery’s UK general manager Brendan Hamill declares pay was previously too high in recent meetings with a union representative. This represents the first admission from the company that the new pay structure equates to a pay cut, despite Stuart previously claiming that the 24% cut to the base rate rolled out in early December 2021 was “fairer”.  

Couriers, who are forced to pay their own vehicle and fuel costs, are doubly hit by the cost of living crisis, as wages have fallen while expenses are skyrocketing. Many couriers are forced to work upwards of 70 hours a week to make ends meet. Meanwhile, Stuart Delivery, ultimately funded by the French public-owned postal service, has one of the highest margins on deliveries in the gig economy and handed a £2 million pay rise to CEO Damien Bon in 2020.

Wednesday marked the first time UK General Manager Brendan Hamill had communicated with couriers directly since Hamill fled “secret meetings” with select couriers over peaceful protests outside the venue.

Couriers have been rejecting orders from, and taking direct action against, big JustEat clients including McDonalds, KFC, and Greggs. The campaign has received widespread support, including 33 MPs who’ve put their name to a parliamentary motion, Sheffield councillors, and local businesses. 1400 people have written a letter to Stuart management supporting the strike and the strike fund totals over £50,000 in donations.

Action is taking place in Sheffield, Middlesbrough, Chesterfield, Morley, Birstall, Heckmondwike, Ashford, and Worcester with actions having taken place previously in Huddersfield, Sunderland, Blackpool, Mansfield, Wolverhampton, Folkestone, Thanet, Aldershot, Farnborough, and Belfast. The IWGB alongside Leigh Day Solicitors is also taking Stuart to court on behalf of 150 couriers over wrongful misclassification of worker status.

Stuart drivers have already won paid waiting times at £10/hour and an end to unfair terminations resulting from a specific administrative error relating to insurance. Couriers are still demanding a pay rise.

Parirs Dixon, Courier and Chair of the Sheffield Couriers’ Branch (IWGB), says: “It was refreshing to hear UK General Manager Brendan Hamill finally agree to meet me after 100 days of action, but it became clear during the 3 hour meeting that Mr. Hamill was not there to negotiate in good faith. He spoke down to me, told me our fees prior to the cut were too high, and seemed as if he was trying to break my spirits to stop the strike. He will be disappointed to know that workers are incensed about the contempt he showed me and other cities are starting to take action after hearing about the meeting. This has only strengthened our resolve and we have no intention of stopping until we get the pay rise we are owed.”

Alex Marshall, President (IWGB), says: “After 100 days of action from workers across the UK, we are seeing that even Stuart Delivery's top management can’t keep up the ridiculous lie that their pay cuts are "fairer". These couriers worked hard through the pandemic, but when the clapping stopped, the couriers saw their bosses take the first opportunity to slash their pay. And now, at a time when the cost of living is soaring, this strike is about survival. That's why we're seeing the strike continue to spread across the country and actions escalate. We will continue to fight until we get the pay rise the workers not only deserve, but desperately need.”

Interviews with drivers are available upon request.

For more information, please contact:
James Vail, Head of Communications
press@iwgb.co.uk

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