Deliveroo (ROO.L) riders from the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are taking industrial action on Wednesday against the company that has recently floated on the stock market, over issues of wages, safety protections and basic workers’ rights
The move was meant to coincide with the company's shares officially being admitted to the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday following a period of "conditional" trading that began last week.
"The strike fund raised almost £10,000 ($13,813) in just a few days last week and socially distanced protests are being organised in London, York, Sheffield, Reading, Wolverhampton," IWGB said.
Supportive action is expected internationally in Australia, France, Netherlands, Ireland, and Spain. IWGB has even claimed "Deliveroo is now the world’s most protested app-based platform."
Earlier, Deliveroo had cut its potential valuation, following a revolt from the City of London over the company's treatment of drivers. Several of the City of London's biggest money managers — including Aviva (AV.L), Aberdeen Standard Life (SLA.L), L&G (LGEN.L), and M&G (MNG.L) — publicly said they would not take part in Deliveroo's IPO.
The money managers cited concerns over Deliveroo's treatment of drivers. Deliveroo's platform allows anyone to sign up as a rider to deliver food for restaurants. Analysis published by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism claimed that riders can earn as little as £2 an hour on the platform, which is well below minimum wage.
Deliveroo disclosed in its IPO documents that it is facing legal claims or regulatory probes across much of Europe over the classification of its riders.
WATCH: Deliveroo riders strike as trading for shares begins
"Deliveroo has also come under increasing pressure from parliament with large numbers of MPs from all parties backing the IWGB’s demands," the union said.
Shadow deputy leader of the House of Commons Afzal Khan said on Twitter: "Solidarity with Deliveroo riders today, who are on strike with the @IWGBunion. 62% of riders in Manchester, Chester, Lancaster & Liverpool are paid below the national minimum wage Workers deserve better pay, rights & safety."
Other MPs who tweeted their support included Kevin Brennan, Labour MP for Cardiff West, and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham.
"The company’s main competitor Just Eat already declared its intention to abandon the gig economy model of ‘bogus self-employment.’ Other courier corporations have been compelled to do so by courts in the UK and victories against Deliveroo are being won in courts abroad," IWGB said.
Greg Howard, Deliveroo rider and chair, couriers and logistics branch at IWGB, added: “I’m going on strike for my basic rights and those of all the other riders struggling to get by and support families on Deliveroo poverty pay.
"I’ve seen conditions decline for years and then working through lockdown I contracted COVID-19 and got very little support from Deliveroo. After the pandemic more people than ever understand this exploitation is no way to treat anyone, let alone key workers."
Alex Marshall, IWGB president said: “Deliveroo presents a false choice between flexibility and basic rights but the Uber ruling showed that here as well as abroad, workers can have both."
Last month, Uber (UBER) said that it would reclassify its 70,000 UK drivers as workers. The reclassification doesn't entitle drivers to the same rights as employees but means they will be guaranteed minimum wage, sick pay, holidays, and will be entered into a pension plan. The shift followed a defeat for Uber in the UK's Supreme Court last month.
Earlier, shares in Deliveroo rallied as unconditional trading began. Wednesday marked the first time retail investors could buy and sell shares in the company, including the 70,000 who invested money in Deliveroo's initial public offering.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said the rally would be a "a big relief" to Deliveroo and the bankers that worked on its float. There were fears that retail investors could dump shares at the first opportunity, following last week's disastrous debut.
However, Deliveroo's share price still remains well below its IPO price despite Wednesday's uptick. The company sold its shares at 390p-a-piece ahead of its official listing. The stock promptly fell 30% after debuting on the market last Wednesday in one of the worst London listings in history.