Ethan Bradley 1993-2021
At just 28, the loss of Ethan Bradley, the chair of the IWGB couriers and logistics branch, is tragic. Socialist Party members first met Ethan as a college student, at a time when under the impact of the election of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, many people were looking for a way to fight back. Ethan, along with friends from college, joined the Socialist Party and became active in fighting against the government’s austerity programme, including being featured on the cover of the York Press marching at the head of an anti-austerity demonstration in 2011.
Although Ethan was a Socialist Party member for only a brief period, when he later became involved in organising couriers with the IWGB in York and beyond, we came into contact with him once again. York Socialist Party members joined the IWGB boycott against Five Guys; and Ethan and other IWGB activists spoke at our branch meeting about the campaign and discussed with us about extending support for it.
This relationship continued with Ethan writing in the Socialist about the IWGB’s still ongoing campaign with York City Council for full city centre access for couriers; and to the Deliveroo strike which IWGB members organised in York and other cities, marked to coincide with the company’s IPO on the stock market.
In York, Socialist Party members mobilised young people – radicalised through the ‘Kill the Bill’ protests – to join the demonstration, helping to swell the socially-distanced rally organised by the IWGB to around 60, as well as afterwards joining IWGB members to leaflet fast food chains about the Deliveroo strike. I remember well Ethan’s delight as he told people how much the strike had knocked off Deliveroo’s share value in one day.
Ethan was an instrumental part of all of these campaigns. In particular, he had been involved in investigative research into what the real take-home pay of couriers working for Deliveroo actually was, some as little as £2 an hour, being nominated for the British Journalism Awards as a result.
Discussions with Ethan about how the rights of gig economy workers could be secured were fascinating, including how to balance providing the security of sick pay and other measures whilst ensuring the flexibility of when to work remained, which attracted many couriers to such work.
It’s a fitting tribute to Ethan’s work that Sheffield couriers are continuing this battle, and are currently engaged in the longest running strike of gig economy workers against pay cuts by Stuart Delivery. More Ethans will need to step forward to lead the struggle to end exploitation in the gig economy and for a society that can meet the needs of all.