Working conditions and pay in the Gig Economy

Deliveroo has made headlines again, this time in Sheffield this week as the riders there begin two weeks of striking. There is an interesting mixture of insights which Sophia Dorou, the journalist responsible for the above article, has uncovered in her report. For the majority of the respondents which she spoke to, it seems like the consensus is fairly clear, that they are simply interested in a higher rate of pay.

However, an interesting element of her report covered the experience of a Mr Uddin, who has been working for Deliveroo for three months. Quite movingly, he explained how he had kept working during the pandemic despite his asthma, widely believed at the outbreak of Covid-19 as being a potential co-morbidity. What is interesting about his testimonial is that he does not just touch upon the rate of pay as a complaint regarding his experience at Deliveroo. He mentions how the restaurants which he picks orders up from often treated him like ‘second class citizens’.

Researching this topic further uncovers an interesting debate on the Deliveroo subreddit. Here, to some surprise, I found out that some drivers actually feel it may be the other way around.

Many responders to this post note that in their experience fellow Deliveroo drivers can actually be quite hostile towards staff, especially as they get impatient when food takes a long time to prepare.

One of the interesting benefits of Corona Virus in middle class ‘white-collar’ jobs has been a period of reflection on work life balance. Many people reported far higher life satisfaction during the lockdown period, whether it was as a result of being furloughed or being allowed to work from home and save time either side of their commute. Perhaps it is important for society not to simply consider this learning experience through the lens of the upper-middle classes.

At Horus, we truly pride ourselves on the way that we treat our staff. We are a small startup at this stage, so it is unlikely that our drivers are about to strike. Reflecting on these articles, it is clearly important for us to not simply consider the quality of work for our middle-management employees, but also for our drivers. We emphasise social responsibility through the praxis of environmental conservation, but it is also incumbent on us to act responsibly towards our drivers.