The True Hours of Work and Income of a Deliveroo Courier in Liverpool

The True Hours of Work and Income of a Deliveroo Courier in Liverpool

By Deliveroo “Knight” Rider
Liverpool, 09/10/2019

Foto: Deliveroo “Night” Rider

Do you consider yourself self-employed, with all the freedom that it implies?
No. Deliveroo couriers are not authentically self-employed because we are required to work at specific times of the week. We have to work to earn the right to have hours of work. You can lose the right to work for not wanting or not being able to do it at a certain time. (Presently Liverpool is on a “free-login zone” trial).

Deliveroo have changed many times the rates which they pay to the couriers. Were you ever asked for your opinion about the changes in the rates?
No. Deliveroo comes to us every week soaking us with the propaganda that says we are free to work when we want but they do nothing but change working conditions, change rates. They change, change and change everything without considering our opinions. At first I trusted the company so I built a life around this work and after several years the money began to decrease. I have two children, and my wife does not work because the children are still very young. We have a car and we are buying the house in which we live. Now I’m having trouble keeping the life I have been building in working with this company.

From what you say I understand that couriers do not collaborate in any other change made by the company.
No, absolutely not. Deliveroo considers all couriers the same way, just as they consider customers all equally and restaurants also consider them all equally. But the workers and their individual situations are different, the veterans who have built their lives around this work do it full-time, but others are only students who work a few hours a week, and yet others still use this work as a secondary source of income. So those of us who have helped raise this company are now having serious economic problems. This is how they thank us.

In the past all orders had a single rate of £4.00. Now every order varies, some of them being ridiculous (below £3). Deliveroo can offer you only £3.90 delivery at 5 pm and offer you £5.10 for a delivery of the same distance at 7 pm. This practice conditions all couriers because to receive decent offers they have to work at night, especially on weekends, or when it rains a lot and it is more dangerous to work. What do you think about that?
Presently, during the super peak-hours of work (7-9pm), there are so many couriers out on the road that you can no longer earn the same money that you earned before. And yet, because of higher rates, Deliveroo “forces” us to work during those hours, and after super peak-hours the rates go down drastically.

Do you accept orders of less than £4? What are the rates and distances that it favors you to accept and which ones harm you?
What really annoys and affects me the most is that on the majority of deliveries I am sent away from the centre, and after giving the food to the client, they don’t send me another delivery offer until I arrive back in the city centre. And having arrived they offer me a delivery under £4, which I reject in the hope that it will be offered to another person at a higher rate.
It also bothers me that many times when I arrive at the restaurant, the App adds a second delivery to pick up in that same restaurant for only a little more money than initially offered for the one. In that case I also reject it, so that someone will receive it individually for a higher amount than what they offered to me (as part of a double).

Presently and until mid-January Liverpool is being trialed as a “Free-login zone”, this means that the couriers can turn on their App and work at any time for as long as they want (without having to book hours). Most couriers say that right now they are earning between £100 and £200 less per week, and, obviously, that to earn the same amount as before they have to work many more hours. What is your experience?
I used to work 55 hours every week and earned between £ 700 and £ 750. Now I work 80 hours per week and earn a maximum of £ 800.

You work with a moped which means that you have a “vehicle-priority” status allowing you to book your working hours earlier (only applies to booking zones) and to receive more orders. Courier car drivers have “vehicle-priority” too . Is this good for you or bad?
Right now it is bad. I am working with two different phones, one is from a cyclist friend of mine who has the App for cyclists and the other is mine. When I am waiting for orders with the two Apps on at the same time I receive many more on the phone for cyclists, and for long distances the cyclists always receives more money than the biker.

To work with Deliveroo you are required to show them your driver’s license, motorcycle insurance and a second insurance called “fast food insurance”. What exactly is that insurance for and how much do you pay for it?
Fast food insurance does not cover the cost of food in case of an accident, it is only an insurance that we have the obligation to pay for choosing to use a motorcycle for courier work. This insurance does not cover the theft of the motorcycle and only serves for work activity, that is the reason why most motorcycle couriers have two insurances: one normal for their daily life, which also covers theft of the motorcycle while they work, and another for courier work, which does not cover the theft of the motorcycle.
I pay £193 per month for the “Fast food insurance” and do not use the motorcycle outside working hours.

What are your monthly expenses of your work?
Scooter: ……. 200 £
Petrol: ………..160 £
Insurance: …..193 £
Services: ………50 £
Equipment: ……30 £ (12 first months of working activity)
Taxes: …………200 £
TOTAL: ……….833 £ per month.

What are your gross earnings per year and how much do you have left after paying your self-employed taxes?
30,000 (gross earnings) – 10,000 (expenses) = 20,000 (net earnings)
Notice, the average I earn per hour today is the following:
Based on 80 hours (hours I work per week) x 48 (weeks I work per year, all but 4) makes a total of 3,840 hours of work per year.
Take 20,000 (net earnings per year) divided by 3,840 (annual hours of work) and my rate of income equals to only £ 5.20 per hour!

Why don’t you look for another job?
I want to do this if the situation does not change soon but it is not so easy. Right now my family and I have so many expenses to pay that I can not afford to stop working to find another job, not even to have a gap of one month without pay, we really are living on the limit.

On social networks you can see many videos of teenage delinquents attacking courier motorcyclists, they work in packs and try to steal motorcycles in very violent ways. Is this happening in Liverpool?
This is happening here, there may be worse cities but definetly Liverpool is not a safe place. My motorcycle was stolen in front of my house: I went in just five minutes and when I went out the bike was gone, they did it just for fun, the police found it burned. On another occasion, when I was inside of a store in Aigburth Road, three boys stole my motorcycle. One of them blocked the door with one of his legs so that I could not get out, they were not able to start the motorcycle so I ran after them. They eventually gave up the chase and dropped it to the ground hitting a car, just for that reason the insurance of my motorcycle and my car, which I use only for my private life, has since increased considerably.

What did the police say you?
There were many witnesses and the boys left their three bicycles from which their fingerprints could have been taken but after a week a police office told me:

“I’m sorry but there are no CCTV cameras in the place, next time let them steal the bike without giving a chase and call us at that moment, because you can get into a mess if you enter into struggle with a minor; they can report you. ”

Do you avoid going to any part of the city because of fear of being attacked?
Yes, definitely: Everton, Anfield, Toxteth and Dingle.
A fellow of mine was threatened with a knife by a group of teenagers to give-up his motorcycle but he accelerated and escaped. Another fellow had an attempt (also by a group of teenagers) at having his motorcycle stolen in Toxteth, but he grabbed it and began to scream and shout for help while the teenagers were attacking him; in the end he remained with his motorcycle having endured a beating.

Several weeks ago a number of Liverpool’s veteran Deliveroo couriers held two strikes. Do you think the general apathy of all couriers is being mobilised and materialised in an effective enough organization for them to be able to negotiate better future work conditions with the company?
No. There are far too many couriers available, if we were less and could pull-together it could affect the company, but being so many it seems almost impossible. We are divided and people only work and work. Liverpool being a “free login zone” means that there are now many more delivery riders from other courier platforms (such as “Uber Eats” and Stuart”) also logged-in to the App and available to receive orders; people who did not previously work because they did not have access to working hours. The company is very smart, it has everything calculated and knows exactly the position it has gradually forced us into.

Liverpool, 09/12/2019
Deliveroo “Knight” Rider

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