Deliveroo riders are being denied the right to collective bargaining in what amounts to a breach of their human rights, the High Court was told in the latest legal challenge involving the “gig economy”.
The High Court is hearing a judicial review challenge brought by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain that argues that riders should be permitted the benefit of collective bargaining under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The union is challenging a decision made by the Central Arbitration Committee, which found that Deliveroo riders were not workers because they were able to ask other riders to take on deliveries for them and so were not providing a “personal service”.
The IWGB disputed the CAC’s ruling that held that Deliveroo riders were outside the legal definition of “workers” who could be recognised by a union. It also argued that the CAC should have interpreted “personal service” in a way that allowed Deliveroo riders to bargain collectively through a union.
On Wednesday John Hendy QC, acting for the IWGB, said that riders had wanted collective bargaining with Deliveroo with regard to terms and conditions, pay and holidays.
“Deliveroo has refused to bargain collectively with this or any other union on behalf of the riders. Deliveroo is adamant that it, and it alone, determines terms and conditions . . . on a take it or leave it basis,” Mr Hendy told the court.
The food delivery company said IWGB’s legal challenge should fail. “The Strasbourg case law comes nowhere close to showing that the riders had a right to collectively bargain with Deliveroo,” its barrister Christopher Jeans QC argued in his written submissions to the court. “Whatever general rights they may have had under Article 11, the riders did not have the specific right to collective bargaining.”
The Deliveroo case is due to last two days and a ruling is expected to be reserved. The outcome of the case could have wider implications for the way collective bargaining rights are interpreted for workers.
It is the latest gig economy case to come before the courts. In June the Supreme Court found that a tradesman working for Pimlico Plumbers was not self employed, as the company had insisted, but was in fact a worker and so entitled to benefits such as holiday pay. Uber has just finished its appeal against a court ruling that a number of its drivers were workers and not self employed as it claimed.
On Wednesday Addison Lee, the mini cab company, became the latest business to lose an appeal on workers’ rights after the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld a ruling that its drivers work for Addison and as such were entitled to receive the minimum wage and holiday pay.
Addison Lee said in a statement it would carefully review the court ruling. “Addison Lee is disappointed with the ruling as we enjoy a positive relationship with the vast majority of our 3,800 driver partners,” it added.
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