Johnson may be gone, but we was a symptom of the malaise of the country rather than an outlier. Law breaking, letting powerful entities mistreat workers, ignorance, corruption and impunity are endemic.
Take the use of electric bikes by Deliveroo riders. We have all witnessed their riders on bicycle with illegal motors, either propelling the bike at speed much higher than the 25 kph limit, or functioning with no pedal stroke, or both. These bikes are not only illegal, but also a danger to the riders, to pedestrians and other cyclists.
We first reported a number of riders to Deliveroo, but they didn’t care. We tried to escalate the complaint higher up, and we were told the typical bullshit “the welfare of our riders is of outmost concern”. But what are they actually doing to ensure that their riders use legal bikes? No response.
My name is Gary and I work in the Serious Complaints team at Deliveroo.
We appreciate you bringing this issue to our attention and I am very sorry that you had this experience.
Safety for everyone is our highest priority. As with all road users, we expect all our riders including cyclists, to obey the highway code at all times.
I have shared this information with our Rider Operations team to review and follow up with the riders in the area directly, as in line with our internal policy.
We then contacted the local police. We received the typical ignorant response: “e-bikes are not illegal to be ridden on the roads therefore there is no action to take against this.”. We had to explain these people the law of the country (which admittedly was imported from the EU; but is that an excuse for such flagrant ignorance?).
We escalated to the top Metropolitan Police officer in charge of Vision Zero, Daniel Card. He was non committal:
“we have considered taking action and do so where there are offences apparent.”
So we issued a FOIA request to the Metropolitan Police, inquiring what specific actions have been taken against the company?
The response seemed to have been written by the Deliveroo legal team:
In other words, Deliveroo is making a mockery of the law and the Police is happy allowing them to do it.
This is very English: let the powerful do what they want and fuck the country, let’s concentrate on persecuting the poor, especially if they come from ethnic backgrounds.
We then asked our representative at the London General Assembly to ask the Mayor if he was happy with this exploitation of gig workers. Maybe the fact that these workers have a similar status to that of his father at a young age, would move him to act. But in England, class trumps ethnicity, and the former lawyer doesn’t seem to care about gig workers (or bus drivers, as he has shown during the first year of the pandemic)
The office of Caroline Russell was quite slow in getting an answer and seemed uninterested in pursuing this issue.
This is the response we received ten months after having asked.
I am afraid it is very difficult to get the police to change their policy on something like this, and they are right that under the law riders are self-employed and Deliveroo does not provide the bikes and it is down to the individual rider to ensure that their bike is compliant with the law.
The Mayor has said previously that he met with the founder and CEO of Deliveroo in December 2020 to discuss a range of issues, including rider conditions and wellbeing and that he calls on all digital platform operators across sectors to recognise the right of workers to organise and bargain collectively for better working conditions. so hopefully there can be improvements.
Let’s see again what the Mayor stated in July last year
I met with the founder and CEO of Deliveroo in December to discuss a range of issues, including rider conditions and wellbeing. …
Genuine two-way flexibility where both boss and worker have a say in working patterns is a good thing. But when abused by unscrupulous businesses, it creates a race to the bottom in low pay, insecurity and bad practice.
In my second term, I will work with Londoners, businesses, unions, and other stakeholders to develop a charter for the on-demand economy, to help promote the highest standards and shine a light on bad practices.
To be fair the Mayor, he has created the Good Work Standard but it is again the typical bullshit PR exercise, where companies sign up to get a badge, but nothing is done against rogue operators who “create a race to the bottom of bad practices”.
Fortunately the race to the bottom is not presently happening; some of the Deliveroo’s competitors provide good legal ebikes to their riders.
Why then does the Mayor let Deliveroo act like Qatari builders? Is it because the company gave him some cheap shares at the IPO?
And dear reader, if you are so lazy that you cannot walk or ride your bike to your favourite restaurant, at least delete the Deliveroo app.