E-Courier CEO Ian Oliver emailed his couriers (see bottom of page) asking them not to campaign and offering feeble consolatory remarks, including “You are already earning the London Living Wage”. See the IWGB response below:
It came to my attention last week that you sent an email (copied in full below) to your pushbike couriers in which you slag off the union, make untrue assertions about pay rates, and attempt to dissuade couriers from campaigning. Let’s analyse this email in a bit more detail.
You start by saying you have recently met with the couriers and reviewed their rates of pay. What you don’t say is that this pay review came after the IWGB wrote you, threatening a campaign á la City Sprint if you didn’t come to the table. Do bear in mind you could have raised courier pay at any point in the past year yet did so only after we threatened a campaign.
You say you now believe that the couriers are earning the London Living Wage on average. Although I doubt you actually believe that, if you do you are simply wrong. This belief is either based on an assumption that the couriers are taking hours of downtime each week, on a regular basis, where in the middle of the working day they are refusing to take jobs (an assumption your couriers strenuously deny), or the belief is based on just a few weeks of recent data (which you don’t have to be an economist to know just isn’t serious).
You refer to us as an “unrecognized union” and say we are trying to stir up trouble. Employers have attempted to dismiss us and denigrate us since we started winning campaigns, but your choice of words is a particularly interesting one. We are “unrecognized” because we haven’t requested union recognition as we have had other priorities (like winning a pay increase). But now that you mention it, it’s not a bad idea. Please consider this email a formal request for union recognition of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) for the purposes of collective bargaining in respect of eCourier pushbike couriers (the bargaining unit). This is a request made in line with Schedule A1 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. You now have 10 working days to agree to grant voluntary recognition, failing which we will make a formal application to the Central Arbitration Committee.
Although I have dealt with the Living Wage Foundation issue in the past, the point doesn’t seem to have registered, so I will deal with it again. Whilst telling your couriers and clients that you are approaching the Living Wage Foundation to seek accreditation may provide useful cover along the lines of “well clearly eCourier is doing something about this issue” it is highly misleading. The Living Wage Foundation will not accredit you. They accredit employers who guarantee a minimum of the London Living Wage, not an average. For you to guarantee a minimum, you would have to raise the rates significantly. Secondly, you are not even paying the Living Wage on average! Third, the London Living Wage rate of £9.40 assumes that the worker in question is also entitled to paid holiday, statutory (or occupational) sick pay, paid maternity leave, etc. Given that your couriers have none of these and have to use their meagre wages to save up for a holiday, the financial hurdle which you must overcome is even higher. Finally, we will be contacting the Living Wage Foundation to make all of these points.
The most telling part of your email is the following:
“However, in the meantime we do not see it is in anyone’s interest to try to
disrupt the service we provide for our customers.
Let’s not forget that without our customers we have no work.”
I agree with one part of that: it’s certainly not in your interest to disrupt the service. You see, the campaign will target your customers precisely because you don’t want the campaign to target your customers, and the campaign will do what’s necessary to win. Your customers also have a moral responsibility to not contract an exploitative courier company and we will be making that point to them. To their credit Mishcon has showed grave concern over this issue and from what I hear is considering dropping you in favour of someone who behaves a little more respectably. And whilst it may seem expedient to address your couriers in a patronizing tone in order to dissuade them from campaigning, no one is more motivated than them to put an end to your poverty wages.
In sum, you are paying below the London Living Wage, you don’t provide any paid holidays, you don’t provide any sick pay, you don’t provide any pensions, you break off negotiations with and disparage the union that represents the majority of your pushbike riders, and you consider a campaign for decent pay “stirring up trouble”. It seems that bicycle deliveries is not the only thing that hasn’t evolved in this industry since the Victorian Era. The good news is it’s all about to change. Next week we will submit an employment tribunal claim against you which will expose your bogus classification of the couriers as “independent contractors” and establish their right to sick pay, holidays, and pensions. Shortly after that we will be holding the first Living Wage protest which will target a number of your clients. And we have now formally initiated the process to obtain union recognition which will also end in court if you attempt to fight it.
Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
Dear Pushbike eCouriers.
As you know we have recently met with all of you and subsequently reviewed
your rates of pay.
We now believe that you are all earning on average the London Living Wage
of £9.40 per hour.
We know that an unrecognised union has been trying to stir up trouble by
suggesting that we are not paying on average the LLW.
It is quite a difficult calculation as you are all paid by the job rather
than on an hourly basis.
We are committed to you earning the LLW.
During next week we will introduce some software which will log when you
call mobile, where you are and when you sign off so we will have some
really accurate data.
We have also approached the Living Wage Foundation to seek accreditation
and to talk to them about our pay structures.
If we find we are not paying, on average, the LLW then we will make some
adjustments so we do.
However, in the meantime we do not see it is in anyone’s interest to try to
disrupt the service we provide for our customers.
Let’s not forget that without our customers we have no work.
We will be holding our usual Thursday morning meeting at the office ,
tomorrow the 10th March and if anybody would like to come along to find out
more about what we are doing or discuss anything (as usual) then please do.
Also if you want to phone and talk to any of the operational team about
this then don’t hesitate.