one year ago, Anna (not her real name) spent eight hours driving for the food delivery platform Just Eat and Deliveroo to earn £150 ($200 USD) a day in her hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Now to get close to that figure, Anna says she has to work 12 hours a day. Before he deducts taxes, insurance and fuel from his earnings.
Like many platform workers, Anna—who asked that we not use her real name because she’s worried Just Eat might terminate her account—says she wants to take pay cuts, jobs made by the delivery platform. Caught between increasing competition and rising fuel costs. Anna is dependent on Diesel, which escalated in the UK this month Record 179 pence per liter ($8.95 per gallon), partly in response to the war in Ukraine.
“Fuel growth and all the cost of living has gone through the roof right now,” she says. “During this time, Just Eat has dropped its prices, and that’s not okay.”
Platform employees who say rising costs are reducing their wages are going on strike this week. Anna plans to join other Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber drivers to participate in a six-hour strike in Belfast on Wednesday organized by the App Drivers and Courier Union (ADCU). “We are just trying to get the price back, where we are not working on losses,” she says.
ADCU claims Just Eat has cut its fees by 25 percent, a figure Just Eat disputes, though the company didn’t provide an alternate number. According to the union, the pay cut brings its fees in line with the “already very low” rate paid by other companies operating in the city, including Deliveroo. Deliveroo declined to comment on the impact of rising fuel prices on the earnings of its employees.
Similar complaints among Just Eat workers are being raised not only in Belfast, where the company only uses self-employed couriers – they follow other protests already taking place in the UK. In March, Just Eat Drivers in the southern English region of Kent went on strike, demanding higher wages to compensate for rising fuel prices. Just Eat and Deliver drivers held several strikes in another city in the East English region of Essex.
“Everything is growing, but the amount they’re giving us is going down, and they’re hiring more people, so it’s getting more saturated, and there aren’t enough jobs,” Just Eat Driver jimmy zane told local news,
The fuel crisis has sparked protests in another important European market for the gig economy: Germany. Employees of Just Eat’s subsidiary Liferendo also went on strike on Tuesday in response to rising fuel prices. “Liferando pays a higher-than-average mileage allowance with 30 cents per kilometer, which is the highest possible amount to pay tax-free,” says company spokeswoman Nora Walraf. But that amount is no longer enough, according to Ouse Allianck, lead researcher in Germany for the Fairwork Foundation, a group that scores labor practices at platform companies. “With rising gas prices, it’s unsustainable now,” he says. “It’s well below the accumulated cost for a lot of workers.”
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