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UK – Deliveroo riders lose landmark court battle over collective bargaining

06 December 2018

Deliveroo riders are not entitled to collective bargaining rights, a High Court has ruled. The ruling confirms a previous court decision by the Central Arbitration Committee which ruled that the Deliveroo’s riders were self-employed contractors and not employees.

The decision deals a setback for the employment rights of workers in the gig economy.

The High Court’s ruling dismissed a judicial review brought by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, which aimed to overturn an earlier ruling that confirmed those working for the Deliveroo were self-employed.

Last year, the Committee concluded that because Deliveroo riders have the right to assign a substitute to do their work, they were self-employed contractors. Therefore, they could not be classified as workers or employees with the right to collective bargaining.

However, the IWGB claimed that not allowing collective bargaining breached the rights of Deliveroo riders under the European convention on human rights.

The High Court disagreed and ruled that the riders’ human rights had not been breached and that Deliveroo riders were not in an “employment relationship” within the context of European human rights law.

The union said it would appeal against the latest ruling, adding that a majority of Deliveroo riders wanted workers' rights and union recognition.

“Today's judgment is a terrible one, not just in terms of what it means for low-paid Deliveroo riders, but also in terms of understanding the European Convention on Human Rights,” Jason Moyer-Lee, IWGB general secretary, said. "Deliveroo riders should be entitled to basic worker rights, as well as to the ability to be represented by trade unions to negotiate pay and terms and conditions."

Deliveroo's UK managing director, Dan Warne also commented and said the ruling was ““a victory for riders who have consistently told us the flexibility to choose when and where they work, which comes with self-employment, is their number one reason for riding with Deliveroo”.

“We will continue to seek to offer riders more security and make the case that government should end the trade-off in Britain between flexibility and security,” Warne said.

Julia Kermode, chief executive of The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association, commented on the ruling, “Deliveroo set out to engage a self-employed workforce which, it appears they have achieved in practice as the court backs up the view that their couriers are self-employed.  Some couriers will be disappointed to learn that they cannot benefit from the collective bargaining rights they were seeking as self-employment does not give them this right.  However, there will be other Deliveroo couriers who enjoy working on a self-employed basis along with the flexibility that self-employment brings.”

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