“Shame on you, Foodoroo!”: Joint Bicycle Demo through the Streets of Berlin on Thursday 18th May

Roughly 80-90 Foodora and Deliveroo riders with supporters took to the streets on Thursday to highlight their common struggles with the two Berlin-based start-ups. Clad in pink and blue, the workers chanted slogans including “Foodora, Deliveroo, shame on you! shame on you!”, and “What do we want? Better working conditions! When do we want it? NOW!”

Their demo was planned in conjunction with FAU Berlin, who has been assisting the riders to organise themselves for the last few months. It forms part of a larger campaign to improve working conditions, which riders say have been gradually deteriorating. In their speeches, workers took issue with the kind of precarious work which seems to be central to the gig-economy, highlighting the inherent connection of their struggle to similar struggles elsewhere.

Riders are demanding that all their repair and running costs (such as bicycle repair costs, and phone data) are covered by the employer. As one rider pointed out, “We are already making a huge sacrifice by using our own phones and bicycles. So it is completely justified that we ask for repair costs and data to be covered by our employers. Why should we be expected to contribute to the running costs of companies if we cannot share in their profits?”

Riders are also demanding a €1 per hour/drop increase in wages, and enough hours to make a living (which was guaranteed in the past but which today is often unreachable). Foodora riders are also demanding that they are paid for the time they spend on shift planning, while Deliveroo riders want more transparency about the hours they have worked.

So far neither company has been willing to negotiate even though negotiations have been offered by the union, and despite publicly claiming that they are willing to talk to their employees. In a letter to the FAU, Foodora responded to our request for negotiations by asking for us to forward them our demands. Our demands are public information and we know that journalists have approached both companies for their comments about the demands. It is confusing that Foodora requests them again, rather than responding to our request for negoitiations.

Deliveroo’s response was not even directly given to us and only appeared in a newsletter directed at riders. They stressed how important their riders are to them, and how they always “try to communicate that”. However, in the same message they seemed to dismiss the riders’ modest requests for open communication, instead pointing riders to an FAQ on their website and a “rider support hotline” where riders can complain as individuals.

Unlike Foodora, who has at least acknowledged us as the workers’ representative and sent us their statement, Deliveroo is trying to bypass the union as the forum for negotiations, ignoring the wishes of the riders. They are trying to convince the riders that by complaining individually their voices will be heard. It seems like they might also know as well as we do that workers are always stronger when acting together and are isolated when they act alone.

This demonstration was only the first of a series of planned actions intended to put pressure on management to come to the table and negotiate. What’s more, they will get bigger and bigger… We will not stop until some justice is won!

The FAU campaign is also part of the international #deliverunion campaign, which brings together our sister unions and their struggles in the food courier industry in several European countries.

For more information or to get involved in the campaign, contact the FAU at: faub-delivery@fau.org.