Only 7 months on from a meeting between a couple of disgruntled couriers in a dingy pub in Cardiff the IWW Couriers Network is growing across the UK and Ireland. Our network, made by Couriers, for Couriers organises around our demands and on our terms – not those of unelected union bureaucrats or those who decide for us what is in our best interest.
Chris, a courier from Glasgow, is currently working as the lead organiser for the campaign and has given us the run-down on the Network and our recent wins:
The IWW Couriers Network is organised on a loose, federal structure. Local network branches are free to join in terms of membership, and are open to non-IWW members and IWW members alike. They are led directly by the membership and make their own decisions, based on the relevant issues in their area. Reflecting the long-held commitment of the union to direct-democracy and worker self-management, organising in the network is led from the bottom-up, rather than the top down.
With the network system, we hope to show couriers that organising at work is successful in winning demands – providing that you put in the effort and are brave enough to act together. Through the network system we hope to share and develop practical organising skills with the aim of winning member demands and building the collective self-confidence of couriers.
Our network is focused on achieving real wins for couriers on the ground, and we have seen great progress in the short time that we have been active. Organising in Cardiff and Glasgow has already borne fruit as Chris tells us:
Already the IWW Couriers Network has seen significant wins in local areas, thanks to the collective action of network branches. The Cardiff branch of the network which has been active for the longest period of time has resulted in UberEATS adding new boost and delivery zones following pressure from the Network, along with improved map routing in the App.
In the first few months of forming, Glasgow has also seen significant improvements. One restaurant in the city would keep couriers waiting, unpaid, up to 45 minutes for their delivery to be prepared. Couriers delivered an official letter of complaint through the union, with the threat of industrial action if these delays were not reduced. Within days of receiving the letter, service at the problem restaurant started to improve. Amusingly, the union’s presence in the city has also prompted UberEats and Deliveroo officials to organise frequent ‘feedback’ sessions recently in an attempt to circumvent its growing influence.
The IWW Couriers Network are not the only force fighting for couriers, and there is currently a lot of focus in the media on the recent court cases bought against Deliveroo by our comrades in the IWGB, along with a recent report into gig-economy hiring practices by Frank Field MP (you can read the report here – and to which we submitted evidence). Our members know however that improved terms and conditions were never achieved by appealing cap in hand to those in power and it is only by organising on the ground that we can build real power and take the fight to the global multi-nationals exploiting us for profit.
So what is next for the IWW Couriers Network? After a period of rapid expansion into cities across the UK and Ireland, we will be focusing on consolidating our branches in these cities and others – we are getting queries from couriers every day wanting to fight back! – along with building our first collective campaign!
If you are fed up with being messed around by companies like Deliveroo and Uber and want to fight back – get involved today by emailing couriers.network [at] iww [dot] org [dot] uk