Sheffield JustEat couriers escalate dispute as action spreads

Couriers on strike in Sheffield. Photo: IWGB

Couriers on strike in Sheffield. Photo: IWGB   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Alistair Tice, Sheffield Socialist Party

In the week before Christmas, JustEat delivery couriers in Sheffield, employed by Stuart Delivery, extended their targeted strike action to hit four Greggs shops. This is in addition to the six McDonald’s outlets affected since 6 December.

The couriers, with around 100 now organised in Sheffield in the IWGB union, are striking against Stuart’s cut in the base rate of pay from £4.50 a delivery to £3.40.

The 18 days of strike action, estimated to have cost Stuart and McDonald’s around £250,000 so far, is the longest continuous food delivery app strike in UK history.

These self-employed workers, whose employer is an app, get no basic pay, no sick pay and no holiday pay. They are fighting this pay cut by demanding a pay rise, paid waiting times after ten minutes and recognition of the IWGB.

Their action has inspired trade unionists and students in Sheffield to support their pickets, and £13,500 has been donated to the strike fund.

Before Christmas, the strikes spread to Chesterfield, Huddersfield, Sunderland, Blackpool and Liverpool. International messages of support have come from South Korea, Australia, Italy, France, Austria and the USA.

Stuart, a subsidiary of the multinational DPD Group, is clearly rattled by the action. Before Christmas, it sent every JustEat courier in the country an insulting email implying that the drivers couldn’t count! And in the first week of the New Year, Stuart organised an invite-only couriers’ ‘focus group’ at a secret location in Sheffield.

It turned out that the secret location, which was tipped off by one of the ‘invited’ drivers, was so secret that even the hotel manager didn’t know about it, nor the two security guards Stuart employed. Consequently, the secret meeting was cancelled and the Stuart manager reportedly escaped through a back door. Another Stuart PR disaster!

After this successful protest, the couriers will resume targeted strike action.

All trade unionists and socialists should support this important struggle and try to spread it to your city or town by contacting couriers picking up deliveries from any major fast food outlets, and organising meetings and protests.

As a small independent union, the IWGB has no strike fund, so is appealing for trade union donations to sustain and spread the strike action. You can donate by BACS to:

  • Account name: Couriers and Logistics branch
  • Sort Code: 23-05-80
  • Account number: 17001094