Deliveroo riders do not have the right to collective bargaining, the High Court has ruled in the latest case involving the so-called “gig economy”.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) attempted to overturn a ruling which found that riders are not entitled to collective bargaining rights because they are “self-employed”.
At the High Court in London on Wednesday, Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed the union’s claim that the decision of the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) amounted to a breach of riders’ human rights.
The judge said he was “not persuaded” that the right to collective bargaining extended “beyond an employment relationship”.
He added that, as Deliveroo riders are not “in an ’employment relationship’ with Deliveroo”, the right to bargain collectively was “not engaged in this case”.
Mr Justice Supperstone said the IWGB’s application for permission to appeal against his decision had been refused.
The IWGB wants to represent Deliveroo riders in north London in order to negotiate on issues of pay, hours and holiday with the company.
But the CAC rejected the union’s application as riders were able to pass a job to a substitute, meaning they were not obliged to provide a “personal service” and could not be classified as “workers”.
At a hearing last month, the IWGB’s barrister, John Hendy QC, said the right to the benefit of collective bargaining is “conferred on all workers and their trade unions”.
He added that the CAC should have interpreted “personal service” in a way which did not exclude the right of Deliveroo riders to bargain collectively, as enshrined in Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
But Christopher Jeans QC, for Deliveroo, said the IWGB’s argument on Article 11 was “an afterthought” at the CAC hearing, which “nonetheless expressly considered the belated Article 11 submission and did not accept it”.
He said that “whatever general rights they may have had under Article 11, the riders did not have the specific right to collective bargaining”, which could only apply to “those in an employment relationship”.
Mr Jeans added that, even if the riders did have that right, any interference with it was “plainly necessary … for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.
In a statement after the ruling, Dan Warne, UK managing director of Deliveroo, said: “We are pleased that today’s judgment upholds the earlier decisions of the High Court and the CAC that Deliveroo riders are self-employed, providing them the flexibility they want.
“In addition to emphatically confirming this under UK national law, the court also carefully examined the question under European law and concluded riders are self-employed.
“This a victory for riders who have consistently told us the flexibility to choose when and where they work, which comes with self-employment, is their number one reason for riding with Deliveroo.
“We will continue to seek to offer riders more security and make the case that Government should end the trade-off in Britain between flexibility and security.”
IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Today’s judgment is a terrible one, not just in terms of what it means for low-paid Deliveroo riders, but also in terms of understanding the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Deliveroo riders should be entitled to basic worker rights as well as to the ability to be represented by trade unions to negotiate pay and terms and conditions.
“The IWGB will appeal this decision and continue to fight for these rights until we are victorious.”