Dalston couriers working for app-based firms Deliveroo, UberEats, and JustEat are protesting tomorrow, 20th January, after being forced to wait for orders in all weather at Bentley Road car park, a current COVID testing centre with no shelter or toilets. The riders will assemble on Ashwin Street E8 3DL at 4pm and from there ride their bikes/mopeds to Hackney Town Hall arriving there around 4.15 for the rally.
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.”
Couriers waiting outside McDonald’s to pick up orders face increased harassment from police and civil enforcement officers and have received punitive £65 parking fines while working even though they have not been provided with anywhere suitable to go. Off-site parking presents health and safety concerns, with gig economy couriers being prime targets for moped theft and the lack of toilets raising health and safety concerns for food delivery couriers. Parking fees have been waived until March 2022, but after this, couriers will be forced to pay to wait for orders out of their own wages.
Nearly 350 emails have been sent to the Mayor of Hackney and Capital Arches Group from concerned local residents backing the couriers fight for a safe space to work. Tomorrow’s protest follows a recent correspondence from the Hackney Mayor reaffirming that couriers should move to Bentley Rd despite concerns around safety and parking fees not having been resolved.
Organised by the IWGB, tomorrow’s demonstration follows two protests and boycotts on 17 September and 9 November 2021. On 16 December 2021, Hackney Council met with Capital Arches Group though couriers were excluded from the meeting and no solution was reached. Couriers are now calling on Hackney Council, Capital Arches Group and the food delivery apps to install the necessary infrastructure in Bentley Road car park to make it a usable space to work including a shelter and toilet access.
Attempts to move couriers off Ashwin Street where they previously waited follow plans for the regeneration of nearby Ridley Road. The plans have been condemned as “gentrification in action” pushing out local residents, retailers, and workers.