IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

We need protection, say delivery drivers working under ‘cloud of fear’

‘It’s a choice between getting paid and staying safe’

31 January, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Zakaria Gherabi at  shrine for friend Taki Eddine Boudhane

DELIVERY drivers working for Deliveroo say they can be blocked from work without warning or explanation, leading to calls for more transparent working practices.

Unions are now calling for greater rights following the death of Taki Eddine Boudhane, 30, who was killed while working as a delivery rider in an apparent road rage attack in Finsbury Park on January 3.

It is understood common reasons for being “deleted” from the Deliveroo app can be for missed deliveries or complaints from restaurants.
But the drivers say they are not shown the evidence or given the chance to argue their case in an appeal.

Deliveroo deny this is the case, but the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB), which is trying to organise drivers across the country, says there must be a clearer code.

Takieddine Boudhane

Taki Eddine Boudhane

Greg Howard, the IWGB Couriers and Logistics Branch Secretary who is also a Deliveroo rider, said: “Deliveroo consistently deny their riders a due process when it comes to firings and can instantly switch off their access to work without warning.”

He added: “Evidence of accusations is never provided, with only vague reasons given. Riders are in the dark about how they can appeal against a decision and often turn to the IWGB for help navigating the opaque procedures.”

Following Mr Boudhane’s death in a stabbing, the company sent an email to delivery drivers. In it Deliveroo, which views the drivers as self-employed, said it is “unacceptable” that they should ever feel unsafe as a result of crime, adding: “Your personal safety is always the most important thing. You can unassign yourself from any order and you never have to work in a specific area if you feel unsafe.”

But Zakaria Gherabi, who represents delivery drivers in north London and was a close friend of Taki Boudhane, said: “It’s just a word game to them. They are saying it so if they get blamed they can say we were given a choice not to go on the delivery. It’s unfair that they refuse to take responsibility.”

Mr Gherabi worked for Deliveroo until 2016 and is now involved in trying to organise delivery drivers to stand up for fairer working conditions.

He added: “The company is not causing the violence, but they could be doing more to stop it. They could stop accepting orders from areas that are dangerous, or where drivers are always being attacked.”

Delivery drivers went on strike in Islington two weeks ago

Mr Gherabi added drivers often feel under pressure to go on deliveries they would usually decline due to fee surges applied by Deliveroo.

“Sometimes they see an order to a place you do not like to go, but the amount they will pay you has gone up,” he said.

“Maybe it’s because there are no drivers available, or it is far away, or maybe other drivers have turned it down for the same reason. But they feel under pressure to go because they are trying to make money.”

Delivery drivers went on strike in Islington two weeks ago, setting up a picket line at Highbury Corner and complaining over unsafe working conditions and poor pay.

It is understood further strike action is planned for the coming months.

Mr Howard said: “We don’t believe riders should be working under this cloud of fear every day, worried that their boss won’t back them up and afraid of retaliation if they report something.”

The Tribune put the above allegations to Deliveroo and a company spokesman replied with the following statement: “Deliveroo engages with our riders on a frequent basis and takes any ­concerns extremely seriously.”

It added: “We are committed to supporting our riders and they have a strong voice within the company. We hold regular meetings across the UK to hear feedback and have a dedicated engagement team in place to support our riders.”

Nobody has been arrested for Mr Boudhane’s murder and police have previously suggested that a van driver who is a key suspect may have swiftly left the country following the stabbing, and flown to Austria.

Witnesses to the attack in Lennox Road, near Charteris Road, have been urged to come forward by calling 101. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org

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