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DELIVEROO riders brought their landmark union recognition fight to the High Court today as they continue their battle against the gig-economy employer.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is fighting for couriers in Camden and Kentish Town, north London, to be entitled to collective bargaining.
In November, the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) ruled that a majority of Deliveroo riders in the area wanted the IWGB to represent them as they sought collective bargaining on pay, hours and holiday.
But the CAC found that because of a “substitution clause” that allows riders to pass a delivery on to someone else, Deliveroo riders were not legally workers.
John Hendy QC, for the IWGB, said the CAC decision meant that the union “has been denied its right to collective bargaining,” telling the court: “In international law or in common parlance, workers are people who perform work.”
He said the CAC had not looked at whether the substitution clause “operated in practice,” pointing out that a rider had to ensure, for example, that their substitute could pass a criminal record check, even though they had “no means of carrying out” such a check.
He added that the clause would be regarded as “absolutely absurd to the vast majority of Deliveroo riders, who never engaged a substitute.”
Mr Hendy said that the fact that riders had no involvement in their own terms and conditions was “highly material,” adding: “This is an employer which has no input from its workers … they simply exclude the workers altogether.”
Deliveroo previously welcomed the CAC decision, claiming that its riders “value the flexibility that self-employment provides.”
IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee told the Star that an overall victory for the union would have “a huge impact, not just for our members in Camden and Kentish Town but across the entire country.
“The impact would be enormous. We would be one step closer to getting a collective bargaining deal in Camden and Kentish Town, which would set a precedent for Deliveroo riders being able to negotiate pay, hours and holiday.”
Earlier this month, a court in Spain ruled that a Deliveroo rider should be considered an employee.
The company has also faced strikes over working conditions in Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Hong Kong.
Ms Justice Simler reserved judgement in the case.
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