“Another courier cost them nothing. We were disposable”

The speech that was held outside the labour court today:

“We are here today, because we hold Deliveroo accountable for their actions. In August, the company fired all of it’s couriers on a four day notice. We do not just quietly accept this. They think they can do this, because we were forced to take up contracts as independent contractors, to be formally self-employed – but we all know the truth, as workers we were completely dependent on the company. We do not accept their reckless practices of recruiting anyone who did not have another job, and then abandoning them to the streets, only receiving orders through an application on their phone. Never even advicing any of their workers on issues like health insurance or accident insurance, let alone paying anything of them. They did not really care, because another courier cost them nothing. We were disposable. A big international company with a billion Euros of capital has to be held responsible to take some care of it’s workers.

It’s shocking to loose one’s means of subsistence with a four days notice. They gave us no warning. Even though, we could not know it’s coming, in some way, most of us were not surprised. This was the logical end to how they always treated us anyway. Deliveroo, like many other so-called platform businesses, routinely practiced withholding of information and deliberate misinformation as management strategy. Anyone who worked for Deliveroo as a courier knows that they never liked to talk to us, and when they sent us any messages and they seldom really spoke the truth. We were not treated as intelligent human beings. We were just extensions to their applications. We were disposable extensions, because there were always enough people in Berlin needing some money. And gig economy companies are up to taking advantage of this.

We attempted to engage in a conversation with Deliveroo, with our de facto employer. We tried to talk to them individually, and we tried to talk to them collectively. They did not bother to talk to us. They did not bother to try to improve on this – on the contrary! They only closed the chat channel we could use to talk to each other. They actively separated us from each other, in order to prevent us from defending ourselves and our interests. When we wrote them a petition asking for better working conditions, including a guarantee of having enough work to do, so one could actually earn a livable wage, they did not listen. They answered by hiring security guards to the front door of their office. Later on they moved their offices to high towers where the workers could not even enter. This is the neo-liberal economy, this is a form of neo-taylorism, where there are no worker rights, workers are manipulated to compete and work against each other, and where there is no collective action or solidarity. The management of the company is invisible to us, and lives in another reality. We are here today because we do not accept such practices. We do not accept their vision of the future.

Deliveroo has ceased its operations in Germany, but this struggle we are fighting here is not just about one country. They still operate in many other countries, where our colleagues are struggling with worsening working conditions. We are here also to express solidarity to them. We’re here to show that organising pays off. We are fighting together!”

Akseli, ex-Deliveroo Rider