'Secret' delivery driver pay talks cancelled after union members stage protest in Sheffield
A strike by delivery drivers over pay descended into farce when union members turned up to ’secret talks’ in Sheffield - and they were promptly cancelled.
IWGB members unfurled a banner at 8.30am outside the Jury’s Inn where Stuart Delivery bosses were scheduled to meet couriers to negotiate an end to the dispute.
But it is understood the venue - unhappy with the protest - cancelled the event before it could begin.
What happened next is contested.
In a video shot outside the hotel, an IWGB member claims Stuart Delivery negotiators had ‘gone out the back’. A Just Eat spokeswoman said the meeting was cancelled before they arrived.
The drivers are employed by Stuart Delivery, which is sub-contracted to Just Eat.
They say a wage cut leaves them on less than the national minimum wage after paying for car insurance, petrol and other costs.
The union member added: “Why were drivers told not to invite anybody or tell people about this? Why meet in secret?”
Starting on December 6, couriers refused to pick up Just Eat orders from McDonald’s in Sheffield, causing thousands of pounds of losses in uncollected food orders, it is claimed.
The action was paused on December 24.
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An IWGB – Independent Workers of Great Britain – spokesman said: “Couriers are still demanding a pay rise of £6 plus mileage and paid waiting times. Unless Stuart Delivery meets those demands or sits down at the negotiating table with IWGB union drivers and representatives, rather than conducting consultations with drivers of their choice, the strike will resume on Monday January 10.”
Martin Mayer, secretary of Sheffield TUC, said calling a meeting with a ‘select few’ drivers was a ‘typical tactic of the worst anti-union employers desperate not to talk to, let alone recognise, a legitimate trade union’.
He added: “These are some of the most exploited workers in the city and they are angry.”
Strike action had spread to towns across the UK including Sunderland, Chesterfield, Blackpool and Liverpool, he added.
Stuart Delivery is owned by DPD Group, which is based in France and operated by state-owned postal service La Poste. DPD’s turnover in 2020 was 11 billion euros.
A Stuart Delivery spokesman said the meeting went ahead after being rescheduled and they had a ‘duty to protect the anonymity of couriers’ in the talks.
But he would not say why union members were not invited.
He added: “The change to our pay model was made to ensure couriers on the Stuart platform will be paid more fairly based on the distance they travel per delivery.
“This is part of our commitment to being the best delivery platform for couriers looking for flexibility and financial stability. The new model has been developed so that it works for all couriers, whether they do shorter deliveries more frequently or fewer, longer trips, and will continue to guarantee pay-per-hour that is among the highest in the sector.”
A Just Eat spokeswoman would not discuss the impact of the strike or their discussions with Stuart Delivery about resolving the dispute.
Before Christmas, she said: “We are working with our third party delivery partner and are having ongoing discussions with them and couriers on this matter.”