Police were called to Greggs’s Newcastle HQ after striking Just Eat couriers stormed the building during a demonstration.
Just Eat couriers from across the UK met outside of the Greggs building in Quorum Business Park on Thursday (March 24) as part of ongoing strike action by members of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB). It comes as subcontractor Stuart Delivery, which employs the couriers, slashed the base rate of delivery pay by 24% in December 2021 while the the cost of living crisis threatened to worsen.
The IWGB union says Stuart Delivery couriers are forced to work “upwards of 12 hours a day for poverty pay,” with the pay cut seeing the minimum rate of pay per delivery drop from £ 4.50 to £ 3.40. JustEat couriers are also forced to pay fuel and vehicle costs out of their own wages.
READ MORE: Just Eat couriers to demonstrate outside of Greggs HQ in Newcastle as they strike over pay cuts
The couriers decided to target Greggs, which is a client of Just Eat and Stuart, to highlight how the people who deliver their food are being affected by the cuts. The union says that the pay cut runs contrary to Greggs’s commitment to socially responsible business practices throughout its supply chain.
Couriers carrying banners with the message, ‘Greggs. Just Eat: Pay drivers fairly, ‘sounded horns and set off flares outside of the Greggs HQ. A group of protesters then entered the building before police officers arrived shortly after.
Just Eat courier Khalil Lange, 31, traveled to the demonstration from Sheffield where he has worked for the company for the last three years. The dad-of-three said he has been striking for weeks as he called for company Stuart to pay couriers fairly and Greggs to take notice.
“Up until December 6, it was a good job,” he said.
“You could make good money and work around your life and be flexible with it. But after the pay cut, it has been s *** t.
“After working through the pandemic and keeping their business alive when other businesses were crumbling, to then have that in the immediate aftermath is quite a depressing thing.
“All the couriers feel angry and worse now the diesel prices have shot through the roof. They can’t afford their insurance, they can’t afford their fuel, they can’t afford to live.”
Khalil said before the cuts he would work an eight-hour day and take home around £ 135 but now he is working around 12 hours to make just £ 85.
“Our message to Stuart is to give us our money,” he said.
“They got fat off the work they did and they are now trimming the fat from our pockets instead of their own.”
The demonstration at Greggs comes as part of what has become the longest gig-economy strike in history. Couriers have already targeted major Just Eat clients McDonald’s and KFC as part of the action which has been running for 91 days.
Stuart UK said the pay offer did not amount to a cut in wages and that its pay per hour for couriers is amongst the highest in the sector.
Brendan Hamill, general manager of Stuart UK said: “It is wrong to say that Stuart’s new pay offer amounts to a pay cut. Data collected since the implementation of Linear Pay has shown an overall neutral to positive impact on courier pay in Newcastle.
“We take courier concerns very seriously and aim to be the most courier-centric platform in the sector. Stuart’s pay per hour is amongst the highest in the sector and average courier earnings, calculated by the time couriers spend on deliveries, exceed the real living wage and this has not been affected by the introduction of our new linear pay structure.
“All couriers using Stuart’s platform are given equal opportunity to voice their concerns with us and we act on them wherever possible. The ongoing action by a small number of couriers does not represent the sentiment of the couriers we interact with on a regular basis.”
Northumbria Police confirmed they had been called to the demonstration at Greggs HQ.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “At 1.40pm today (Thursday) we received a report of a protest ongoing at Quorum Business Park, off Benton Lane, Longbenton.
“Officers attended the scene and liaised with all parties present. The group have since dispersed. “
Just Eat stressed that it was Stuart that sets courier pay, not Just Eat, as it said that discussions on the dispute were ongoing.
A Just Eat spokeswoman said: “We are keen to maintain an open dialogue on issues that are important to couriers. We are working with our third party delivery partner and are having ongoing discussions with them on this matter.”
Greggs said they were aware of the pay row and hope the situation is resolved soon.
A Greggs spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the dispute, but we have no direct involvement nor influence with Stuart. Our delivery partner Just Eat will keep us updated, and we do hope the situation is resolved for everyone very soon. “
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