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Thousands of Deliveroo employees ‘at risk’, warn MPs

A group of cross-party MPs have called on Deliveroo to “protect the incomes and safety” of its workers as the pandemic continues to unfold. 

The coalition of 44 MPs sent a letter to the Will Shu, the group’s CEO Will, with six demands for the delivery company after accusations it has failed to provide adequate PPE for its riders.

The letter, organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain’s (IWGB), was signed by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, and Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley, among others.

The MPs wrote: “Thousands of people are currently being put at risk by your actions. 

“Deliveroo couriers are low-paid, precarious workers, who are not able to self-isolate when sick or to protect their families, and clients and restaurant staff and other key workers including NHS staff are being potentially exposed to infection.”

They added: “To ignore the demands outlined above would be highly irresponsible and counter efforts to slow the spread of the virus.”

Both the coalition of MPs and IWGB are now demanding that the group offers adequate PPE for all riders, as well as regular Covid-19 tests to all riders.

In addition, it has also called on Deliveroo to halt all dismissals of riders until the end of the current crisis, and offer full pay to couriers that have to self-isolate because of the virus.

It has also demanded that high-risk couriers must be able to self-isolate for 12 weeks on full pay, and provide a minimum standards guarantee, including a guaranteed pay of at least the minimum wage plus costs, holiday pay and sick pay.

It comes as IWGB claims that Deliveroo’s support for its employees thas been “chaotic and grossly inadequate”, failing to provide adequate health precautions.

The union added that wages have plummeted, with many riders reporting to the IWGB that they are earning as little as one pound an hour. The addition of more riders has further driven down wages for employees.

It has also accused Deliveroo of continuing to sack riders “without evidence or right to appeal”.

Deliveroo courier and IWGB couriers and logistics branch secretary, Greg Howard, said: “Deliveroo has built its business model on precarity and poverty pay. 

“This has only been exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic during which riders have been being unfairly terminated, paid far below the minimum wage and forced to work in unsafe conditions.” 

He added: “As Deliveroo is increasingly delivering to vulnerable people, it is not only riders that are being put at risk through this questionable business model, but the public as a whole. 

“This work is vital and it can be done safely, but only if Deliveroo invests in the safety and the rights of its riders.”

A Deliveroo spokesperson told the Guardian: “At Deliveroo, riders are at the heart of everything we do and we are working hard to support them during this unprecedented time. This includes distributing PPE kit to riders across the UK, supporting riders financially if they are unwell, and keeping riders safe through contact-free delivery.”

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