Trade union calls for Deliveroo UK riders to strike to highlight IPO risks

Deliveroo, whose 50,000 self-employed riders are a common sight in many British suburbs, is set for Britain's biggest stock market debut in nearly a decade. PHOTO: REUTERS
Deliveroo, whose 50,000 self-employed riders are a common sight in many British suburbs, is set for Britain's biggest stock market debut in nearly a decade. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • A trade union called for Deliveroo's riders in the United Kingdom to strike when the meal delivery service floats on the stock market next month, saying on Sunday that the action would highlight dissatisfaction with the company's business model and approach to workers' rights.

Deliveroo, whose turquoise-uniformed couriers are a common sight in many British suburbs, is set for Britain's biggest stock market debut in nearly a decade after setting a share price range that values it at up to US$12 billion (S$16.2 billion).

But some investment firms have said they will not participate in the initial public offering (IPO).

Insurer Aviva, for instance, highlighted a lack of rights for riders as an investment risk as the company might be forced to change its business model.

Deliveroo said investor demand had continued to build since its roadshow began on March 22. It added that the views of the union which announced the strike, the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB), did not represent the vast majority of its riders.

The IWGB previously lost a legal challenge to Deliveroo in 2018. The case sought to secure rights such as the UK minimum wage for riders, but the court ruled riders were self-employed.

"Investing in Deliveroo means associating yourself with the exploitative and unstable business model," IWGB president Alex Marshall said in a statement, adding the strike was planned for April 7, to coincide with the IPO.

The rights of people who work in the gig economy have been an increasing focus in Britain. Ride-hailing app Uber gave its workers more entitlements earlier this month after losing a Supreme Court case.

Deliveroo said job satisfaction levels among its 50,000 self-employed riders in Britain was at an all-time high, and that the flexibility they had was a big attraction.

"Thousands apply to work with us every week, reflecting the strong demand for our on-demand model," a company spokesman said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2021, with the headline 'Trade union calls for Deliveroo UK riders to strike to highlight IPO risks'. Subscribe