Published: 20:45, 04 March 2022
| Updated: 20:47, 04 March 2022
Dozens of takeaway delivery drivers have gone on strike this evening in a bid for better pay and more transparency about their earnings.
Just Eat couriers in Thanet who claim they can earn as little as £40 profit for a 10-hour shift walked out for a two-hour period on what is usually one of the busiest nights of the week, in an effort to get the attention of company bosses.
They are demanding more money as the cost-of-living crisis bites and fuel prices soar, but also more clarity on the payment system used to determine how much drivers earn.
A photo shows about 30 couriers on strike this evening, in a car park at Westwood Cross shopping centre in Thanet, while about 30 more staff members are thought to have congregated in Margate.
Dad-of-four Jamie Hart, who has been a Just Eat driver for three years, was among those on strike tonight.
He said: "We've said if we don't get a response from them next week, we'll do it for a whole weekend if we have to.
"We were pleased with the turnout. Because of the way the job is, we know people still have to earn a living and make money.
"We didn't think we'd get te support we did.
"Even some of the restaurants - we informed them about what we were doing beforehad and explained how the platform works and what we're getting paid, and they agreed - they were supportive. They're hoping we get somewhere with this.
"But with Just eat being one of the biggest companies, I don't know if this two hours is oging to be enough - I hope it is.
"We just need a response from them - for them to acknowledge that we're people, out here doing a job."
Currently, couriers are paid per drop-off, with Just Eat saying the amount is determined by "distance and driving time".
But drivers say there is no breakdown of how the payment – which is offered in advance of a job being taken on – is calculated.
Often, couriers are paid different amounts for doing the exact same delivery job.
Jamie, from Ramsgate, says he earns between £80 and £100 for a typical 10-hour day, but as much as £30 of this goes on petrol.
“During lockdown we were a lot busier because nobody was out – the job was worth a lot more money," he said.
“But now all of a sudden, it's two-and-a-half miles to the restaurant, you pick up the order and you’re only getting about £4.50.
“And during peak time when the traffic and restaurant queues are at the highest, you’re only going to get one job an hour, and if you’re lucky, it’s two.”
Even when he's busy, Jamie, who is expecting his fifth child, says it's difficult to earn enough to make ends meet.
At the start of last month, he did 104 deliveries over 77 hours in a single week.
'If we’re self employed we should be able to go freely on the app and accept jobs when we want...'
For this he earned £608 – the equivalent of £5.92 a drop-off or £7.90 an hour.
But he also spent £210 on fuel, bringing his earnings that week down to £388, or £5.04 an hour. The national minimum wage is £8.91 an hour.
Concerns have also been raised about a new system which penalises drivers for rejecting jobs.
When a drop-off is available, couriers are sent details of the restaurant, the delivery address and the job price, and can choose to take the job or decline it.
Those who accept less than 80% of jobs have fewer deliveries offered to them.
"If we’re self employed we should be able to go freely on the app and accept jobs when we want," said Jamie, who says struggles with his mental health mean he's unable to work a different job.
About 40 couriers across Thanet, including in Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs, are set to walk-out at 5pm today.
It means there will be fewer drivers delivering popular takeaways such as McDonald's, Burger King and KFC during the hour-long strike.
Joining Jamie in taking action was Dolly, 42, who believes earnings have dropped over the past few months because there are too many drivers.
She has also called for more clarity on the payment system used to determine how much drivers earn.
“It is a bit confusing because mid-morning I could pick up a delivery and it would be £6, but I could go the same distance in the evening when it’s busier and get a couple of quid less," she said.
In bigger cities such as London and Manchester, Just Eat employs salaried staff who are paid up to £10.20 an hour regardless of the number of deliveries they carry out.
Uber Eats drivers in Kent are paid £2.55 per drop-off, plus an additional £1.50 per mile.
The minimum they are paid per delivery is £4, but 25% of what they earn goes to Uber Eats as a service fee.
Like Just Eat, Deliveroo does not publish details about pay on its website.
It tells prospective employees: "Riders get paid for each delivery they make. The exact delivery fee varies per order and includes a variable distance fee. You will be told of the delivery fee payable before you accept the order."
The Thanet strike follows similar walk-outs in Ashford and Folkestone.
A Just Eat spokesperson said: "We take any concerns raised by our couriers seriously. Our delivery payment model has been designed to give couriers the flexibility to deliver when they choose.
"We continue to offer a competitive base rate to self-employed couriers and pay is reviewed regularly."