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Uber Eats couriers strike in Glasgow over pay dispute

Glasgow's food delivery services face disruption over the course of the next few weeks as couriers from a major takeaway service get set to go on strike over a pay dispute.

Published: September 12, 2018
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Around 50-70 couriers took part in strike action in the city on Monday.

A spokesperson for the UK IWW union (Industrial Workers of the World) said that the strike action was called in reaction to problems with ‘boost payments’ to couriers for deliveries, which they say have been “significantly reduced in recent months”.

These boost payments refer to multipliers that are added to the basic rate of £2.80 per delivery and are based on how many miles are travelled during deliveries

The spokesperson, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “In recent months, this boost payment has been significantly reduced or stopped altogether, meaning that it's incredibly difficult for couriers to even make basic minimum wage at some points for what is dangerous, dirty and exhausting work.”

They then added that the having a commitment from Uber Eats that “the minimum payment for delivery will not drop below £4.00” is one way they could solve the dispute.

The courier explained that until the company offered some assurances then this strike was likely only to be the first in a “series of actions going forward”, each aimed at getting Uber to improve the fairness of its payment for couriers.

They said: “The work itself is pretty rewarding and we enjoy doing it. We don't want to get another job, and why should we if we enjoy the work? We want to stay and make this job better for everyone.

"When payment is low, couriers can often be encouraged to cycle and drive more dangerously to try to make minimum wage, which is bad for everyone’s safety and particularly for other road users.

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“Making sure that the minimum payment for a delivery doesn't ever drop below £4.00 would help to cut out this risky behaviour.

“The response from the bosses has been complete silence. We haven't heard anything at all about their response to a strike being called in Glasgow, through unionised couriers, for the first time ever. They refuse to acknowledge that couriers are having problems and that a union has formed in response to this. They refuse to talk to the IWW union that we are organising with.

"We are expecting some victimisation to come from the action, so we're covering our faces with dust masks as a precaution against blacklisting. The bosses really seem to have their heads in the sand, waiting for this all to blow over, but couriers are really angry at the situation and are committed to working together so that it can be solved. They've underestimated us and the power of collective action!”

In response to the strike, a spokesperson for Uber told Glasgow Live: "Uber Eats offers a flexible way for couriers to make money by simply logging in and out of the app when and where they choose. This summer couriers using our app in Glasgow took home an average of more than £9 per hour with many also using other delivery apps.
“We offer weekly boosts during busy meal times but a technical issue last week meant that these were not visible in the app for two days. We have since fixed the issue and made sure that couriers affected did not lose out.
“Our door is always open for feedback and we host regular events with local couriers to discuss questions or address any issues they're having."

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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