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‘Every day we have problems’: Food delivery riders protest over pay and working conditions

Deliveroo and Just Eat Food delivery riders in Dublin stage Valentine’s Day strike in protest over levels of pay and working conditions

Food delivery riders in Dublin attended a protest on Wednesday evening to highlight their frustrations about low rates of pay and hostile working conditions on the streets of the capital.

A group of primarily Brazilian English-language students met at the Spire on O’Connell Street at 5pm and pledged to switch off their delivery apps between 5pm and 10pm to disrupt services, aiming to send a message to the management of Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats. A union representing riders says payment has fallen to as little as €1 per order.

About 50 riders travelled in a convoy from O’Connell Street to Leinster House, before stopping to make speeches. The event coincided with similar protests on Valentine’s Day in the US and UK after a Brazilian diaspora of riders galvanised their colleagues into action through social media.

Bryhan Deziro (35), who attended the protest in Dublin, has been working as a rider since he came to Ireland from Brazil in 2017. He delivers food for Deliveroo for 10 hours a day, almost every day.


When he arrived, it was a handy way to make some money and the pay wasn’t too bad. Now he is trying to get out. For many Brazilians seeking to earn extra cash alongside their studies in Ireland, the language barrier can act as a deterrent to changing jobs.

“Previously you could get deliveries for 2km or so for €6.50 or €7, and now you could get a delivery for 8km for the same price,” he said.

The financial impact for Mr Deziro and his fellow riders is felt sharply, particularly since prices of goods and fuel increased in recent years. “I have to work three or four hours more to get the same amount – even more sometimes.”

Deliveroo appeared to take steps to mitigate the impact of the planned strike on Tuesday. Riders in Dublin and London received a notification in the app offering a “Valentine’s Day boost” of an extra €10 or £10 respectively for completing five or more orders. The impact on services in Dublin was likely low following a small turnout to the protest, and food delivery riders could still be seen dashing across the city on bicycles, motorbikes and electric bikes. Nevertheless, Deliveroo issued a further offer to its riders in Dublin to earn 1.5 times regular pay between 6.24pm and 8pm.

On Wednesday evening in Cork city, as riders gathered on St Patrick’s Street, dozens of restaurants were unavailable on the Deliveroo app.

Stella Maris, a Brazilian English-language student, has been working as a rider for eight months. Not only was she frustrated about pay fluctuations, but as a woman she says her treatment on Dublin’s streets has been hostile at times.

“Some people be rude in the streets,” she said via a fellow rider who helped translate. “There are some people who say, ‘Go back to your country’ ... We see all kinds of people on the streets, and you are exposed to the extremes too.” She claimed some drivers have purposefully swerved at her and her fellow riders, in an apparent attempt to intimidate or harm.

Food delivery riders for companies such as Deliveroo are self-employed, and do not receive the benefits that an employee might have.

Luis Silva (26) has been working in the delivery trade since 2019, and has seen his rent, insurance and the price of petrol increase.

Riders have frequent brushes with hostile actors on the streets, something Mr Silva terms as “the bad face of the city”. “During the day it’s not that common, but in some areas you will face that stuff.”

He said he felt An Garda Síochána have done little to help riders when they come forward to report an incident. Mr Silva said he approached gardaí last year over a stolen bike. A week later, he said he informed gardaí he had tracked the location of the bike with an electronic tracker. “They said, ‘If you know where it is, you can go get your bicycle.’ They can’t help you.

“We face this every single day. Some places we don’t go to at night-time. Finglas or Dolphins Barn for example. It’s a danger for us.”

In a statement to The Irish Times, a spokesperson for An Garda Siochana said every complaint is “thoroughly investigated” and in February 2021, following a meeting with an online food delivery company operating across the city, gardaí appointed dedicated liaison officers in each Garda Division in Dublin city centre to tackle the issue or bike theft.

Kewen Jonathan, a Brazilian English-language student living in Ireland for two years, attended the protest because of his frustrations over pay. “This is very important to me,” he said. “The weekends are very busy. Normally you’re working for 11 hours, and I’m here to say to Deliveroo that the payments are no good.”

He said it’s very common for “kids” to hassle riders. “Every day we have problems. They rob our bikes. It happened to me two years ago when they robbed my [electric] bike from inside my garage [in Dublin 1].”

In advance of the protest spokespeople for Deliveroo and Uber Eats said the vast majority of couriers were satisfied with their experiences on the apps. Uber Eats said it regularly engages with riders on improving their experiences.

A spokesperson for Just Eat said while the issues had not been brought to their attention, it took riders’ concerns and welfare very seriously.

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Conor Capplis

Conor Capplis

Conor Capplis is a journalist with the Irish Times Group