8 June, 2015, London. Pushbike couriers employed by City Sprint will tomorrow stage a full-day protest as part of their campaign to win the London Living Wage of £9.15 per hour. The protest will begin with a rally at 9 a.m. at City Sprint headquarters at 58-62 Scrutton Street, London, EC2A 4PH. At some point before 11 a.m. the protesters will then get on their bikes and do a whistle-stop tour of City Sprint’s high profile clients.
City Sprint, a same-day dispatch company which has its pushbike couriers deliver packages for the likes of the Guardian and Goldman Sachs, pays its workers as little as £1.25 for some deliveries. These low rates- which haven’t risen in years-, combined with a multitude of fees and fluctuations in available work result in many pushbike couriers earning around or just above the minimum wage. This is well below the London Living Wage of £9.15 per hour, a wage that a growing consensus of Londoners from a variety of political backgrounds recognises as the absolute minimum needed to satisfy basic needs in the capital. “London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and we haven’t seen a pay rise in twenty years. Most of us work nine or ten hour days on average. Sometimes I come out with less than minimum wage equivalent pay for that amount of time,” said a pushbike courier who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of victimization.
In December, 2014 a group of pushbike couriers decided enough was enough and joined the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), founding the Couriers and Logistics Branch. Inspired by a series of high profile successful campaigns for improved wages and/or terms and conditions- such as at Royal Opera House and University of London- the couriers decided it was time to take the IWGB’s approach of aggressive social media publicity and direct action to the courier industry. IWGB Vice-President Henry Chango Lopez said: “We’ve taken on bigger companies than City Sprint before and have won. Tomorrow marks the first day of action in a campaign that will continue until victory. The question is not if but when City Sprint will pay its workers the London Living Wage.”
The couriers’ campaign is gathering increasing momentum, with a YouTube video with thousands of views and a flurry of activity on social media. Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales and long-time supporter of the IWGB will also speak at tomorrow’s protest. She had the following to say: “It is great to see previously un-unionised workers getting together and asserting their right to a living wage. With the rising tide of activism following the election, I hope we will see many more workers organizing and demanding a fair return for their labours.”
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