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Deliveroo drivers go on international strike ahead of company's IPO

Deliveroo riders in Sydney will join an international strike over pay and rights as the company prepares to begin selling stocks on the London exchange.

Deliveroo riders in Sydney will join an international strike over pay and rights as the company prepares to begin selling stocks on the London exchange.

The UK company’s initial public offering has been predicted as one of the biggest stock market flotations in London in a decade.

But riders in Australia and elsewhere complain they can barely get by on the pay offered by the company, and many are shaken by a recent spate of deadly injuries suffered by colleagues on the job.

Transport Workers Union assistant national secretary Nick McIntosh described the company’s business model as “built on exploitation, refusal of rights and wage theft”.

“Food delivery riders protesting in Sydney today are mourning the loss of five riders killed last year. They’re fighting poverty pay, unfair sackings and pressure to work quickly and dangerously without protective gear,” he continued in a statement.

When companies want to offer shares on the stock market, they must first disclose a long list of information, including what risks there could be for investors, in a document called a prospectus.

Deliveroo’s prospectus included 24 pages of risk factors, such as government investigations or challenges against the working conditions for delivery riders in Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, France and Italy.

It mentions an Italian probe that found riders should be entitled to the same benefits as employees, meaning the company could be forced to pay back the riders’ minimum wage, paid holidays, paid sick leave and severance entitlements for the years between their launch in the country in 2015 until 2020. Deliveroo has appealed that ruling.

The prospectus acknowledges that Deliveroo’s business could suffer by riders stopping work, saying such actions might “require us to adopt or negotiate changes with respect to working arrangements that are unfavourable to the business”.

Some large potential investors have already been scared off, including the investment funds Aberdeen Standard and Aviva Investors, both of which cited Deliveroo’s social policies in their decisions to pull out, Agence France Presse reported.

A TWU survey of 100 Deliveroo riders showed almost all respondents had experienced pay decreases, and 89 per cent said they struggled to pay bills and buy groceries.

Nearly half of respondents said they’d been injured at work, and 78 per cent said they worried about being seriously injured or killed on the job.

Last year, there were several incidents where riders from various companies died while making deliveries.

A Deliveroo spokeswoman said the company seeks to engage with and listen to riders, who are “at the heart of Deliveroo’s business”.

She said a survey conducted by the company showed an 84 per cent satisfaction score.

“We put rider safety first and foremost and have robust measures in place, including free personal injury and income protection insurance; a comprehensive onboarding program and we provide free high visibility kit,” she said.

“We were also the first platform to introduce a Rider Safety Advisory Panel so we could hear from riders themselves on what more we can do on safety.

“We recently announced the Rider Thank You fund as part of our plans to launch an IPO, whereby we pledged to give one quarter of our riders in Australia a significant payment as a thank you for their dedication and service.

“We don‘t believe the TWU campaign to remove rider flexibility reflects what riders really want - and their survey of only 100 riders does not reflect the views of the more than 8,000 riders who work with Deliveroo.”

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