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Just Eat plans to oust 1,700 couriers in the UK

Just Eat is planning to oust 1,700 couriers in the UK as the takeaway delivery firm shifts back towards a gig economy model and scraps guaranteed minimum pay, sick pay and holiday pay.

In addition 170 head office staff will have their contracts terminated as the firm attempts to cut costs in a highly competitive market.

It is understood most of the head office roles are in the UK, in London and the cities where Scoober – Just Eat’s employment model – operated.

The company took 10% fewer orders last year in the UK and Ireland while losses for the group ballooned to €5.7bn (£5bn) from €1bn the previous year after a series of strategic missteps including the acquisition of US delivery firm Grubhub and Brazil’s iFood.

The courier redundancies mark a U-turn from Just Eat’s previous aim to end gig working across Europe by offering worker status, which guarantees better employment rights than the self-employed contractor model widely used by rivals including Deliveroo.

Alex Marshall, the president of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), said: “When Just Eat said it was going to [introduce worker contracts] it did seem a step in the right direction. It’s frustrating … it turns out it was nothing more than a PR stunt and they are no better than the others who chew up and spit out workers.”

Andy Prendergast, the national secretary of the GMB union, said: “Just Eat’s decision to lay off 1,700 workers is a betrayal of those who have worked so hard for the company. At the exact moment when rivals like Deliveroo are offering improved benefits and sick pay, this is a backward step that underlines the need for minimum standards for delivery workers.”

Just Eat began offering worker contracts in 2020 and signed up more than 3,000 of its couriers in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, Cambridge and Brighton. Those numbers have since fallen to 1,700 as riders have moved on. Just Eat has offered fewer couriers its new deal and riders have been given six weeks’ notice with pay.

Within Scoober the riders were entitled to more than the legal minimum in hourly pay, pension contributions and benefits including holiday pay and sick pay.

The couriers also work set shifts, are provided with e-bikes or e-mopeds, which are maintained by the company, and have the option to operate from a central hub, where they can pick up equipment and take breaks. They stopped working for several other apps at the same time as delivering for Just Eat.

A spokesperson for Just Eat said: “Just Eat UK is reorganising and simplifying its delivery operation as part of the ongoing goal of improving efficiency. As part of this process we have proposed to transition away from the worker model for couriers, which is a small part of our overall delivery operations – running in certain parts of six UK cities. There will be no impact to the service provided to partners and customers.


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