‘Several dozen’ customers were turned away from the site on Archer Road after couriers working for Stuart Delivery - a sub contractor to Just Eat - blocked the road, set off pink smoke canisters, hooted car horns and chanted ‘Just Eat, Stuart you can’t hide…’
Organisers say 60 drivers and supporters - including Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield - were at the demonstration, holding banners and waving placards highlighting what they say is a hefty pay cut. Meanwhile, long queues built up on the road into the retail park.
The 45-minute direct action on Sunday was an escalation of a protest which has seen drivers boycott deliveries from three Sheffield McDonald’s - including High Street in the city centre and Granville Road - in the evenings since December.
Hungry customers were ‘curious but positive’ about the blockade, while McDonald’s staff were ‘very supportive’, according to the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
WHAT HAS MCDONALD’S SAID ABOUT THE BLOCKADE?
A McDonald’s spokeswoman said it was liaising with Just Eat.
She added: “While this dispute does not concern McDonald’s directly, we continue to liaise with Just Eat on the matter and understand they are working closely with Stuart to help find a resolution.”
Raja Khan, Sheffield courier, said: “Stuart needs to listen to drivers. You can’t bring pay down when the cost of living is going up. Until they stop attacking the drivers they rely on, we will be forced to create disruption that Stuart and Just Eat can’t ignore.”
Alex Marshall, president of the IWGB, said: “These workers have been on strike for 40 days now and Stuart Delivery’s response so far has been to either gaslight or ignore their perfectly reasonable requests.
“This action marks an escalation from the workers as they target clients like McDonalds who are complicit in the exploitation. The workers are more united and determined than ever and will not give up until they reverse the cuts and win the pay rise they deserve.”
WHAT HAS SHEFFIELD MP PAUL BLOMFIELD SAID?
Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, said the strike was helping to challenge the gig economy which was ‘exploiting too many people in too many jobs’.
And he hoped it would inspire others to challenge similar employment practices across the country.
He added: “I’m proud that it has been Sheffield couriers leading the way.”
WHEN DID THE STRIKE START AND WHY?
Couriers began striking on December 6 after Stuart Delivery cut the minimum delivery pay by 24 per cent, from £4.50 to £3.40.
The IWGB says it has already won two of its demands: paid waiting times and a resolution to an insurance issue that was resulting in wrongful terminations.
It is still calling for a reverse to the pay cut and for a hiring freeze in Sheffield.
It has contrasted couriers’ ‘poverty pay’ with Stuart’s highest earning director who, it is claimed, received a 1,000 percent pay rise over the previous year to more than £2m, while the corporation saw a £20m increase in turnover.
WHAT IS STUART DELIVERY SAYING?
Brendan Hamill, Stuart Delivery UK managing director, said the action by a ‘small number’ of couriers was ‘unnecessary and counterproductive’.
He added: “All couriers using Stuart’s platform are given equal opportunity to voice their concerns with us.”
Just Eat was contacted for comment.