I deliver food to your door, but not this Valentine’s Day. Here’s why we’re on strike in the UK | Anonymous

Ttoday, on Valentine’s Day, delivery workers working for platforms such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats will be on strike to demand higher wages. It is likely to be the biggest strike by platform workers ever seen in the UK. I am one of the organizers.

I live in South London. I spend most of the day on the road. I travel 80 miles a day on my moped for nine to ten hours and generally earn less than minimum wage after expenses. Because I am self-employed, I do not have a guaranteed base salary. Instead, I receive a variable fee for each delivery based on distance and other factors.

Adjusted for inflation, our income has been declining for years. A recent report looked at wages in the sector and found that the vast majority of platforms could not provide proof that workers’ gross pay was at least the minimum wage after costs. I try to do three orders an hour and average about £10 before fees. Sometimes I earn less, more like £7. Other riders who are less experienced or don’t have an account on all the applications I create even less.

My costs are quite low. I own my moped and don’t need to pay someone else to lend me their ID (a practice known as leasing an account). Despite this, I have to spend around £3 on petrol, insurance, maintenance and other costs for every hour of work. So if my account says I’m earning £10 an hour, I’m actually earning £7. I have to earn almost £14 just to earn the equivalent of minimum wage. It’s rare that I earn that much these days.

I work six days a week. On a normal day, I get up at 6:30 a.m. and have a coffee and a cigarette before hitting the road again. I work during all peak hours: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. I’m so exhausted that I have to go home and take a nap between lunch and dinner. Apps talk about flexibility, but there is no flexibility at all: you have to work at peak times, or you don’t make enough money.

Falling wages make life more difficult for everyone. At my local mechanic shop they have a list on the wall of all the racers who owe them money. Before, there were only one or two, but now all the regulars participate. We all fear having to pay a big repair bill. My food bill keeps increasing. I am less healthy because I am totally dependent on frozen processed foods.

Work makes me anxious. There are many things that add to stress. The only way to make more money is to ride faster, which means taking more risks. You can gain a few extra pounds per hour if you are willing to risk your life. I’ve been in situations where I slipped and just avoided falling.

In other jobs I’ve had, if you worked hard, everything would be fine. But when you’re a rider, you also have to be lucky: lucky not to get hit by a car, lucky not to be robbed, lucky not to have to wait for orders. So far I’ve been lucky. But the problem with luck is that it doesn’t last forever.

I arrived in the UK thinking it was one of the richest countries in the world. But things keep getting worse – I work more and more hours for less money. I ended up wondering if it was the right decision.

Other runners’ lives are even harder than mine. Much of the workforce is undocumented. They rent accounts to other people, but they don’t have the necessary papers to find another job. This means they cannot find other work, even if their salary is bad. Often, they rent everything they need from one person: a mattress on the floor of a crowded house, a moped, and a delivery account. They must always remain vigilant to avoid immigration raids and police checks. They live in poverty, but no one seems to care.

Deliveroo said: “Thousands of people apply to work with Deliveroo every month, rider retention rates are high and the overwhelming majority of riders tell us they are happy working with us. » Uber Eats said: “We offer couriers a flexible way to earn money using the app whenever and wherever they want. We know that the vast majority of couriers are satisfied with their experience on the app.

But we cannot continue like this. We have had enough. This is why we started organizing this strike. Thousands of us in more than 90 regions went on strike on February 2, and we will do so again today. Some might point out that Deliveroo delivery workers have a union: the GMB signed a “partnership” agreement with the platform in 2022, and calls itself “the delivery workers’ union”. But we fight for ourselves. Customers who want to support us should boycott the apps for a day on Valentine’s Day and join us when we protest in the streets.

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