‘You can’t bring pay down when the cost of living is going up’: JustEat and Stuart courier strike continues

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Couriers have been picketing McDonalds between 5pm and 8pm every night, and are now targeting Greggs during the day

Courier drivers who say the firm they work for has cut their base-rate of pay by 25% are still engaged in the longest gig economy strike in UK history, with some of their demands now met.

After initially targeting just McDonalds branches in the city to disrupt their deliveries, the striking Stuart drivers have expanded their actions to target other companies linked to the dispute, like Greggs and DPD, which owns Stuart Delivery.

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At a glance: the key points

  • Sheffield couriers have been on strike for 50 days, declining orders from McDonald’s between 5-8PM, in many cases resulting in the stores having to close
  • The IWGB union says Stuart Delivery Ltd has cut the drivers’ base rate of pay by 24%, amounting to a significant pay cut rather than the pay-rise couriers have been asking for
  • Since Sheffield couriers went out on strike in early December 2021, further strikes have taken place in Sunderland, Chesterfield, Blackpool, Liverpool and Huddersfield
  • The couriers, who deliver through the Stuart app and often fulfil orders for JustEat, have also started targeting Greggs and other large chain-restaurants
  • The striking couriers have enjoyed significant public support, with 1200 people writing to Stuart’s CEO Damien Bonn, more than £18,000 raised for the strike fund and a letter of support from a number of local businesses in Sheffield
  • Bonn has previously been criticised after it came to light that he increased his pay by 1000% between 2019 and 2020, up to £2.2m per year
  • More than a dozen MPs signed an early day motion on 27 January calling on Stuart to negotiate with the IWGB, “rescind the recent pay cuts and to implement the minimum standards of pay
  • The workers also targeted DPD, which ultimately owns Stuart Delivery, marching through one of the French government-owned delivery firm’s depots last week
  • Stuart has continually denied that the changes to its pay structure amount to a pay cut, and say that the strike action involves only a “small minority” of drivers

What’s been said?

Raja Khan, Sheffield courier, said: “Stuart needs to listen to drivers. You can’t bring pay down when the cost of living is going up. It isn’t fair. Until they stop attacking the drivers they rely on, we will be forced to create disruption that Stuart and JustEat can’t ignore.”

Alex Marshall, President (IWGB), said: “These workers have been on strike for 40 days now and Stuart Delivery’s response so far has been to either gaslight or ignore their perfectly reasonable requests.

“This action marks an escalation from the workers as they target clients like McDonalds who are complicit in the exploitation. The workers are more united and determined than ever and will not give up until they reverse the cuts and win the pay rise they deserve.”

Speaking at a rally held in support of the drivers, Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, said: “You have collectively achieved an amazing feat - the UK’s longest continuous gig economy strike, and you should all be proud of the resilience you’ve shown.

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“You have shown Stuart, and other gig-economy employers that you can and you will organise through unions to make sure that you get fair pay for a fair day’s work.

He added: “You deserve more than what has been offered to you so far, and I’m proud that it has been Sheffield couriers leading the way. I’ll continue to support your strike, and campaign for an end to fragile employment so that all workers receive what they’re entitled to.”

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