In the latest legal battle over the status of gig workers, the High Court dismissed a judicial review from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). The union argued that it should be recognised by Deliveroo for the purpose of collective bargaining for its riders. The union claimed that not allowing collective bargaining breached the human rights of riders.
In November the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) found that Deliveroo drivers were not workers because they were able to ask other riders to take deliveries for them. Therefore they were not entitled to collective bargaining as they do not provide a personal service.
However, the union claimed that not giving drivers collective bargaining rights breached Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The IWGB said that Deliveroo riders should be able to bargain collectively in order to negotiate terms and conditions and holidays.
High Court judge Michael Supperstone dismissed the challenge: “The personal service obligation does not prevent riders from belonging to the union if they choose to do so, or prevent the making of voluntary arrangements,” he said.
Partner at Lewis Silkin Colin Leckey, who acted for Deliveroo, said that this was the first case of its kind to look at gig worker status with regards to Article 11, which gives everyone the right to join trade unions and gather under common interests.
“We are pleased to have acted for Deliveroo in this important case, which emphatically upholds the finding of the CAC that Deliveroo riders are fully self-employed for the purposes of employment law. To our knowledge this is the first case to have looked at whether a group of gig economy workers are in an 'employment relationship' for the purposes of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights," he said.
“The Court found that not only was Article 11 not engaged, but even if it had been the definition of 'worker' in the compulsory recognition legislation was justified, and it could not be 'read down' to provide the effect the union contended for.”
The IWGB said that it rejected the High Court’s interpretation of Article 11, which it said denies riders their human rights. IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Today's judgement 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,” he continued.
Deliveroo has been the subject of much criticism for categorising riders as self-employed – a classification that means they are not guaranteed the minimum wage and that the company does not have to make National Insurance contributions on their earnings.