Dear Becca Lou,
I have read with interest your blog post entitled “Bonus or Guarantee?” (https://beccaloucourier.com/). This is now the second post you have written about the IWGB Courier Tribunal, and I must say, perusing the two articles together does make for interesting- albeit highly contradictory and incoherent- reading.
Your second article opens with an attack on the IWGB for no longer going for “employee” status in the tribunal, instead opting for “worker” status, and a suggestion that the union had misled media outlets such as the BBC and the Guardian in order to get more coverage. You then go on to explain how “employees” have more rights than “workers”. For example, “employees” have the right to claim unfair dismissal, are entitled to statutory sick pay, and statutory maternity pay. Nonetheless “workers” are entitled to minimum wage, rest breaks, paid annual leave, protection from discrimination, protection from less favourable treatment for part-time workers, protection for whistle-blowing, jurisdiction in employment tribunals to lodge complaints about workers’ rights violations, right to trade union representation, and the ability to force companies, through a union, to engage in collective bargaining for better pay, terms, and conditions (among others!). However you gloss over some of these rights and dismiss the rest as “absolutely useless” and “just red tape for the companies”. Interestingly, your dismissal of these indisputable improvements to the working lives of your fellow couriers appears to be based on the fact that they wouldn’t be “employees” and as such couldn’t claim unfair dismissal. Indeed, the first half of the article reads like a solid pitch for “employee” status as well as a complaint about the fact that the union is only now going for “worker” status.
Putting aside for the moment the inconvenient fact that the Guardian article never said the union was going for “employee” and the BBC said we were going for “employee” or “worker”, and ignoring the factual omissions and gross exaggerations, your case for “employee” status is still relatively coherent. Until of course you look at the first article you wrote on the courier tribunal. Now I realize I may part of the minority of people who have read more than one of your posts, however I can’t help but struggle to reconcile the fact that both of your posts on the courier tribunal were written by the same person. Indeed, your first article was entirely dedicated to making the case against going for “employee” status! You did this by downplaying the rights associated with “employee” status (even suggesting- amazingly- that some people might be financially worse off with paid holidays) and saying: “It is likely that with PAYE, companies will treat their staff like they do bottom rung employees in other industries.” You finished that article with the typical company scaremongering about impending job losses.
But the contradictions in your pontifications don’t end there. Your second article goes on to dismiss the usefulness of rest breaks and minimum wage on the basis that slower riders will be sent home or put on long breaks because they are not productive enough to merit the minimum wage and fast riders will have money taken away from them in order to pay the slow riders. In sum, you appear to be suggesting that everyone will be put on an hourly rate and people’s hours will be reduced, i.e. minimum wage = bad, docket rates = good. Putting aside for the moment the fact that there isn’t a chance in hell that the courier companies are going to move to hourly rates instead of piece-rates (they can still comply with minimum wage regulations with dockets by topping up anyone whose dockets takes them below an average of minimum wage in a week), you end the spiel by saying that lots of Deliveroo riders are looking for new work because they are so unhappy they have been taken off hourly rates and are instead being paid by dockets!
Towards the end of your second article you ask: “… really, what is the benefit to Worker Status or are the union just throwing their toys out of their pram again because they didn’t get the rise in docket rates they wanted?” Followed by: “If the I.W.G.B. want to play up and get better rates for us all – great; but when they use underhanded tactics to shake-up, not only an industry but an entire sector, leaving myself and other couriers to foot the bill, perhaps, we now should really start asking, whether their actions are for the mutual benefit of the couriers or just for their own self-publicity?” In the span of just a year and a half the IWGB has achieved a near 17% pay rise for CitySprint couriers, a near 30% pay rise at eCourier, and an over 20% pay rise at Mach1. I think it’s fair to say most members and the union are satisfied with those numbers. I’m at a loss as to how a highly publicized employment tribunal is an “underhanded tactic”. I’m also confused as to how you would have to foot the bill.
I have told you in the past both in person and by email that I would be happy to discuss the tribunal with you as well as any concerns you had about it. You told me you genuinely wanted what was best for couriers. Couriers from all different companies, through the IWGB, have achieved massive pay rises through effective campaigning and publicity, and are on the verge of revolutionizing an industry by guaranteeing that people will be able to take a holiday without having to pay for it from meagre wages, that people can effectively use a union to negotiate better terms and conditions, that no one will ever get paid below the minimum wage, that people won’t be discriminated against, and companies won’t use punitive procedures against part-time workers, among other things. Four brave individuals have put their necks on the line so that hundreds of others and thousands to come can enjoy these rights. They are facing down an entire industry and its scaremongering surrogates who spread untruths to dampen support for what will be a massive change for the better. In the midst of all this your two articles, whilst full of contradictions, do display one common thread: to make the case, using whatever arguments are most convenient, that the tribunal is bad for couriers. The question you raise about making public statements for self-serving publicity is an interesting one. But perhaps you are posing it to the wrong people.
Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee