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Fast food couriers plan Inverness High Street protest over pay and conditions

By Neil MacPhail

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A courier on a delivery run.
A courier on a delivery run.

Inverness takeaway delivery couriers are set to join the national courier strike on Valentines Day.

The protest action in the city will be marked with a demonstration at the Castle Street end of Inverness High Street from about 5pm to 10pm.

Local man James Anderson who works part-time as a Just Eat courier said: "The protest is over the deteriorating pay and conditions being imposed by companies such as, but nor limited to Deliveroo and Just Eat.

"I am a member of a loose affiliation of local couriers who are taking part in the national strike on Valentines Day.

"The issue of decreased pay and conditions is exacerbated by both the cost of living crisis and the fact that the majority of drivers are migrants who often find alternative employment difficult to find due to language barriers.

"This is further compounded by the 'gig economy' having lapse regulation and next to non-existent levels of trade union affiliation."

Mr Anderson expects around 20-25 at present to take part, carrying their delivery bags and placards.

He said that he is on a WhatsApp group with a group of couriers concerned at the situation, but stressed that the location for their protest was not to single out the nearby busy McDonalds outlet or any restaurant, but because it was a good visible spot to make as many as possible members of the general public aware of what is going on.

The couriers are not directly employed by the restaurants in any case but are self-employed and must supply their car, moped or bicycle and buy their own insurance and fuel.

They register to be a courier with company's such as Just Eat sites and get to pick the "runs" or delivery windows they want. Once on a delivery, the amount paid depends on the distance from the restaurant to the customer. They do not get paid if they are not delivering or waiting for orders.

He added: "The companies have slashed the rates for each order and removed incentives such as paying an extra £1 for peak time delivery shifts.

"It doesn't sound like a lot but it all adds up in the course of a week. The drivers are very upset at the way things are going."

Nationally the action for better pay and improved working conditions will impact four food apps Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Just Eat and Stuart.com who gave statements to the BBC.

Deliveroo said it offered its riders self-employed, flexible work, alongside protections.

"Riders always earn at least the national living wage, plus vehicle costs, for the time they are working with us, though the vast majority earn far more than this," it said.

Uber Eats said it offered a "flexible way" for couriers to earn by using its app "when and where they choose".

It added: "We know that the vast majority of couriers are satisfied with their experience on the app, and we regularly engage with couriers to look at how we can improve their experience."

Just Eat said it provided "a highly competitive base rate to self-employed couriers and also offer regular incentives to help them maximise their earnings".

"We continue to review our pay structure regularly and welcome any feedback from couriers," the company added.

Stuart.com said it also was "committed to providing competitive earnings opportunities for courier partners".

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