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Sudden Closure of Deliveroo: Riders go to court

Published on Oct 04, 2019 Tags: ,
The first negotiations between unionised drivers and Deliveroo will take place on Monday. The result could set a precedent.

Overnight, Deliveroo riders were left jobless when it was made public in mid-August that the app-based delivery service would cease its operations in Berlin. The company terminated the self-employed riders' contracts on the 28th August. Four riders, organised in the base trade union Freie Arbeiter*innen Union Berlin (FAU), are now fighting this. For them it is clear that the job had nothing to do with self-employment. Therefore, they are going to court to have it declared that a regular employment relationship existed between them and Deliveroo - which means that their dismissal is invalid and outstanding payments are due from the company.

According to lawyer Klaus Stähle, who represents the four drivers: "We are convinced that internet-based food delivery controlled by apps and algorithms, electronic shift plans and automated order assignment at standardized prices integrates the drivers into Deliveroo's organization to such an extent that there is no room for self-employment. These are clearly dependent employees. The 'freedom' of the self-employed to reject individual orders is immediately punished by the algorithm when it comes to new shift allocations."

In a dependent employment relationship, in contrast to one with self-employed workers, legally-regulated protections won through prior trade union struggles apply - such as compensation for injury resulting from accidents or continued payment of wages in the event of illness. Severance payments after collective redundancies are also common. Deliveroo, however, only offered the riders an arbitrarily-calculated compensation payment. For rider Lukas Malik: "The majority of these 'good will payments' were tied to the condition that by signing, riders waive their right to all further claims. I see it as an attempt to pacify disgruntled colleagues. Many have signed. But I cannot and will not let Deliveroo get away with it so easily. Such a sudden termination puts riders in a very precarious situation, and must be challenged".

This decision takes the FAU "Deliverunion" campaign into a new phase. For years, the company has ignored these legitimate trade union demands. Now it sees itself in court - with the prospect of sending a signal to the so-called "gig economy". "This business model promotes bogus self-employment, creates space for the denial of rights, and thus poses a serious risk for workers. A verdict against Deliveroo could constitute a warning to similar companies. Marginalised employees will be emboldened to organise against precarious working conditions," says trade union secretary Johnny Hellqvist of the FAU Berlin.
The labour court hearings are open to the public.

    Where? Magdeburger Platz 1, 10785 Berlin, Room 206.
    When? 07.10.2019 11:30 am.

The participants will available on site to answer questions.

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