Fast food couriers targeted in immigration raid days after protesting against Hackney Council

Eight couriers were arrested days after a protest against Hackney Council over a safe waiting space

Eight people have been arrested following immigration raids which targeted fast-food courier drivers who protested against Hackney Council days earlier.

The IWGB trade union has condemned the raid, which also saw 22 mopeds seized by police, and called on the Mayor of Hackney to confirm the council had no involvement in it.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • A number of couriers who were involved in protests against Hackney Council over a parking dispute have been arrested following immigration raids which took place two days after the protest
  • The IWGB trade union has said it is “concerned the raid was a punitive measure” and called on the Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, to confirm the council had no involvement in the raid
  • Glanville told NationalWorld that the council did not have any advance warning of the raid and that the council is “disappointed with the timing” of the operation
  • Couriers who work for Deliveroo, JustEat and UberEats protested at Hackney Town Hall on 20 January, at what they say is the council’s failure to provide a safe, suitable space to wait for orders where they aren’t at risk of fines and theft 
  • The council said it has “gone above and beyond to support the couriers” but that it is not its responsibility to provide a space

What’s been said?

Henry Chango-Lopez, General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) told NationalWorld: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the immigration raid carried out in Hackney last week which resulted in the arrest of at least eight couriers on immigration grounds and the seizure of more than 20 vehicles, each of which is essential for someone’s livelihood.

“The raid took place just two days after the latest protest by couriers in Hackney to demand a safe and affordable place where they can wait for orders. This is not much to ask after they served the community as key workers throughout the pandemic.

“We are concerned this raid was a punitive measure, since instead of hearing workers’ concerns, what we have seen is an escalating pattern of harassment and intimidation by the Metropolitan Police and Hackney Council.

“We will be taking our concerns to the council directly and taking action in solidarity with those affected, whose wellbeing is of great concern to the IWGB and to the local community.

He added: “We will challenge this and any other measures to punish Black and minority workers who dare to demand dignity at work."

Speaking to NationalWorld, LondonWorld’s sister site, mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville said: "Hackney Council was not given any advance warning of this police operation. The police should be allowed to enforce on issues of licensing and insurance to keep all road users safe. But, we have been very clear in the past that we do not support immigration raids linked to enforcement action.

“We’re disappointed with the timing of this police operation, given the recent demonstration by couriers outside town hall, and the unintended message that that may send. We support everyone’s right to peaceful protest, and have been liaising directly with the drivers and their representatives on their concerns.

“The Council has gone above and beyond in working to ensure that drivers have safer conditions – including offering free parking space just 200m from the Ashwin Street area, and making the case for improved facilities for their drivers to the food delivery app operators and the restaurants which use them.

“This is while also enforcing, only where necessary, against antisocial behaviour which has been impacting on local residents and businesses.

He added: “There has been absolutely no increase in Council enforcement activity following protests from couriers over this issue."

Wagner Flores Xavier, courier says: “All we want is somewhere safe, dry and accessible to wait for orders so we can do our jobs without fear.

“Making us wait all day in a Covid testing centre is not safe. Ignoring the theft, assault and harassment we face every day is not safe. Instead of helping us, the police just move us on and make us feel like criminals. We are protesting because the council has ignored our concerns and instead tries to kick us to the curb, moving us from place to place like bags of rubbish.

“But we are human beings and essential workers and we demand dignity.”