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WATCH: Inverness takeaway delivery drivers join Valentines Day protest over worsening working condition

By Federica Stefani

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The protesters on the High Street. Picture: James Mackenzie.
The protesters on the High Street. Picture: James Mackenzie.

A call for better pay and working conditions saw 30 takeaway delivery drivers picket in Inverness city centre yesterday.

The picket, organised in front of McDonald's in the city centre, was part of a nationwide strike for Valentines Day – a date busier than usual for takeaway delivery services.

Many of the drivers that took part to yesterday's strike called for the return of working conditions to those offered in previous years.

Part-time delivery driver Masoud Kabiri said: "The cost is going down each month. Now you get deliveries for £3 – I wonder who is going to go! You have to start the engine drive to the restaurant, park (when you find parking) and drop the food to the customers for £2.50 or £3 – I am always declining these orders.

"I am doing this part-time, but for those who are doing this full-time this is unsustainable. They have families and children, they have to drive day and night, pay for insurance and all the added costs.

"Now they have also removed the bonus for rush hour deliveries.

"That is not right towards people who during the pandemic worked on the front line to deliver food and other essentials to people.

"Due to the cost of living crisis there are more people are taking up jobs as delivery drivers. But with more drivers available, companies are taking advantage and paying less, because if I refuse to do a delivery, there will be another driver picking that order up."

Delivery drivers protesting in front of McDonald's in Inverness. Pictures: Martin Lenart.
Delivery drivers protesting in front of McDonald's in Inverness. Pictures: Martin Lenart.

The wider strike action was organised by Delivery Job UK.

Drivers were offered boosts on the apps for Deliveroo and Just Eat for the date of the strike – with the first one offering a 1.3 pay rate and another offering a 15 per cent increase on deliveries carried out between 5pm and 10pm on the day, the exact times of the strike.

Local man James Anderson who works part-time as a Just Eat courier said: "I am here to protest against the cut in fees that delivery drivers have been receiving from the courier companies of late.

"They rely on the fact that we won't organise.

Another Inverness-based delivery driver, Azmat Khan, added: "With the cost of living crisis and the inflation that has kept going over the moon for a while now in the UK. but our wages have been going down.

"Apparently the answers that delivery companies give is that they pay the national living wage – but as a delivery driver you have to count in costs for fuel, car insurance and other expense. When you take into account all these factors, you are left earning very little. Sometimes for a 5-mile ride you get paid £4 or £5, which is a joke.

"I think we really deserve better."

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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