Exploitation in one click? Grassroots unions start international delivery service-campaign #deliverunion

Deliveroo and Foodora are two very young start-ups that are rapidly expanding on a global level through their high amount of start-up funds. They spark doubts whether digital capitalism brings an end to work – as some have been claiming. But in fact, the ones who bike the streets for the new internet delivery services have to go many miles through the traffic each day and are regularly put into dangerous situations. Through the #deliverunion campaign, the cyclists are now raising their voices.

Social security? No chance!

As most cyclists are (pseudo-)freelancers, they are not included into the social care system, despite their highly risky job. Only receiving a small wage plus bonuses for each delivery, the cyclists are expected to be fully flexible. They cycle on their own bikes and are strictly controlled as their paths and times are constantly under surveillance.
However, the networking via internet also bears some advantages for the mostly young workers: It provides a platform on which they can discuss and decide to take action. Consequently, this year in Berlin the Deliveroo-cyclists turned around their kangaroo-backpacks to protest against the low wages – eventually, they were granted extra payments for rainy days.

Now, workers are also organising on an international level

In London, Deliveroo-cyclists organised a wildcat strike and successfully fought an implementation of a pay-per-delivery wage system. They were an inspiration for a self-organised struggle against precarious working conditions on an international level: In Milan and Turin, Foodora-cyclists also successfully fought for higher wages by self-organised strikes and protests.

For better working conditions everywhere: the campaign #deliverunion

The international connection of workers has just started. Recently in November, a conference of several grassroots unions took place in Bilbao to re-coordinate the international cooperation. It also created the delivery-service campaign #deliverunion. The Deliveroo-cyclists who are organised in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Bristol are the campaign’s initiators: In a video that’s been on the internet already for days, Deliveroo-cyclists describe with confidence how they took first steps to improve their working conditions.

Eight grassroots unions which deliverers can contact participate in the #deliverunion campaign. Its goal is to promote the exchange of ideas about collective and union-based actions and to provide an international platform for the workers to organise and learn about their rights.

Where can I find support from unions?

Whoever wants to improve their working situation in Germany can contact the Wobblies (IWW) and the Freie ArbeiterInnen Union (FAU). For deliverers, the FAU has set up the email address lieferdienst@fau.org; you can also contact the FAU for help and support in those cities in which they are present.

Striking the Startups In Italy, striking food couriers showed “gig economy” capitalists they’re serious about their rights as workers.

In early October, Italian media outlets ran extensive coverage of protests in Turin, where couriers working for the German food delivery company Foodora mobilized. For a country where industrial action is relatively common, why has a strike consisting of just fifty workers attracted so much attention? The answer is simple: this represents the first-known case of worker self-organization in the Italian gig economy

Read more here.