Rapid delivery courier moped

Hundreds of delivery riders for Deliveroo, Just Eat, Uber Eats and Stuart went on strike on Friday evening, in protest against “appalling working conditions” and low wages.

As word of the action – initially planned to take place across specific areas of London – spread on rider WhatsApp groups and social media last week, more riders joined in across the capital, Brighton, Liverpool, Bath and Glasgow.

The strike between 5pm and 10pm on Friday evening saw several dark kitchens halt operations completely, and many restaurants stop accepting orders via the apps.

X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok were awash with posts from consumers unable to order takeaways or waiting hours for their orders to end up cancelled.

The strike was initiated by a group of Brazilian riders who run an Instagram account called DeliveryJobUK.

“This demonstration is about the appalling working conditions being imposed upon us,” a statement by the group posted ahead of the strike said. “The cost of living globally is on a relentless rise, yet, astonishingly, our pay for work is on a continuous decline. Food delivery companies are exploiting workers mercilessly. We’ve been without any sort of wage adjustment for the task we complete for four long years. Our incentives have been stripped away; promotions are a thing of the past…Delivery charges for customers soar, whilst our remuneration dwindles.”

Through the action, riders were told to keep their courier apps open, but not accept orders. Many joined cavalcades on their scooters and bikes.

As a result, many reported being offered inflated sums to make deliveries. In a series of app screenshots tweeted by London rider and IWGB union member Shaf Hussain, Uber Eats was offering “astronomical amounts I’ve never seen” such as £71.01 for two deliveries over 5.9 miles. As Hussain put it: “enticing riders to make their entire day’s pay in one hour”.

The amounts on offer provided “the most indisputable evidence of the strike’s power” said gig economy worker advocate Ben Wray, co-ordinator of the Gig Economy Project.

“They can only be explained by an algorithmically determined desperation to conjure up supply to match demand, and thus break the strike,” he added.

In a communication seen by The Grocer, Deliveroo alerted restaurant partners to the disruption, saying they “have discretion to stop accepting orders” and could switch the tablets used to receive orders “to offline to avoid customers placing orders that cannot be fulfilled”.

“For riders in the UK, the deterioration in their conditions appears to have reached a tipping point, where they are willing to forgo a day’s pay to force the platforms to reconsider their barbaric pay rates,” said Wray. “Whether the platforms will shift remains to be seen, but it is without question that they have been rattled by this action. When gig workers unite and fight, they can move mountains.”

Rapid grocery service Getir, which says it offers its riders “at least the real living wage, with guaranteed pay, holiday pay, tips and bonuses” said it had experienced “massive demand” for the duration of the strike across London.

A bulletin by socialist publication Notes From Below is set to be distributed across London in the coming days calling for further, and longer strikes.

“If we can grow the strikes, it will cost the apps even more money and it will scare them more. The bigger the strike, the shorter the amount of time we will need to continue striking before we win,” it states.