The Voluntary Partnership Agreement will see GMB have rights to collective bargaining on pay and consultation rights on benefits and other issues, including riders’ health, safety and wellbeing.
It will also be able to represent individual riders who are GMB members in disputes, giving them a stronger voice.
The agreement recognises that Deliveroo riders are self-employed, following a series of UK court judgements which have confirmed this status.
“We are delighted to partner with the GMB in this first-of-its-kind voluntary agreement, giving self-employed riders flexibility, guaranteed earnings, representation and benefits,” says Will Shu, Deliveroo founder and CEO.
“Deliveroo has long called for riders to have both flexibility and security and this innovative agreement is exactly the sort of partnership the on-demand economy should be based on.
“This voluntary partnership is based on a shared commitment between the GMB and Deliveroo to rider welfare and wellbeing. Together, we are focusing on what matters most to riders.
“Deliveroo was amongst the first platforms to offer riders free insurance, which we have extended to cover periods of illness and support for new parents, and we are proud to be able to build on that with this new partnership.”
Riders will not automatically become GMB members, and will have to sign up as members through the usual channels.
Deliveroo notes that riders are currently paid the National Living Wage plus costs, and that this pay floor will be guaranteed as part of the agreement and will be discussed annually with the GMB.
“This deal is the first of its kind in the world,” says Mick Rix, GMB national officer.
“Tens of thousands of riders for one of the world’s largest online food delivery services will now be covered by a collective agreement that gives them a voice – including pay talks, guaranteed earnings, and representation in times of difficulty.
“Riders deserve respect for the work they do; and Deliveroo deserves praise for developing this innovative agreement with GMB - a blueprint for those working in the platform self-employed sector.
“This is a valuable contribution in making work better and to the future world of work.”
A 'hollow and cynical' PR move
Not everyone is supportive of the new deal, though.
The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which has been organising Deliveroo couriers since 2016, condemned the move as a cynical and underhand ploy to undermine the appeal it’s bringing to the Supreme Court in the case it’s fighting for statutory collective bargaining on behalf of Deliveroo riders.
In a statement, the IWGB said: “The IWGB has been the leading voice exposing the exploitative practices of Deliveroo’s business model that are designed to deprive workers of basic rights.
“As a result of this public pressure and in response to our campaigns, Deliveroo has been forced to introduce sickness insurance, parental pay, access to toilets for riders, reduced waiting times at restaurants, pay boosts and recruitment freezes.
“Throughout this time Deliveroo has refused to negotiate with its workforce and has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds fighting the IWGB in court to prevent collective bargaining with its riders. Deliveroo has always claimed that collective bargaining would come at the cost of flexible working, but this partnership proves that this has always been a lie to scare workers away from unionising.
“Now as we appeal our collective bargaining case to the Supreme Court, Deliveroo has cynically made this backroom deal with the GMB, which has no record of organising couriers and presents no threat to their exploitative business practices, to protect itself in the event that it loses at the final stage.
“Deliveroo is undermining the efforts of couriers to pursue their rights through the courts, to organise for a voice at work, and to improve their working lives.
“With Deliveroo’s first AGM [annual general meeting] next week, this announcement is nothing more than a hollow and cynical PR move.”
The IWGB went on to accuse Deliveroo of seeking to undermine the UK legal system in preventing a successful statutory recognition agreement with the IWGB by securing a voluntary agreement with another union, and called on the Government to review the Union Recognition legislation.
“If the Government believes in democratic workplaces and true representation of workers, then voluntary agreements such as this should be contestable,” it added.