Trade union calls for Deliveroo UK riders strike to highlight IPO risks

a bicycle parked in front of a building: FILE PHOTO: A courier for food delivery service Deliveroo rides a bike in central Brussels © Reuters/YVES HERMAN FILE PHOTO: A courier for food delivery service Deliveroo rides a bike in central Brussels

By Alistair Smout

LONDON (Reuters) - A trade union called for Deliveroo's UK riders to strike when the meal delivery service floats on the stock market next month, saying on Sunday the action would highlight dissatisfaction with the company's business model and approach to workers' rights.

Deliveroo, whose turquoise-uniformed couriers delivering chicken kormas and American hot pizzas are a common sight in many British suburbs, is set for Britain’s biggest stock market debut in nearly a decade after setting a share price range that values it at up to $12 billion.

But some investment firms have said they will not participate in the initial public offering (IPO). Insurer Aviva for instance highlighted a lack of rights for riders as an investment risk as the company might be forced to change its business model.

Deliveroo said investor demand had continued to build since its roadshow began on Monday, and said the views of the union which announced the strike, the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB), did not represent the vast majority of riders.

The IWGB previously lost a legal challenge to Deliveroo in 2018. The case sought to secure rights such as the UK minimum wage for riders, but the court ruled riders were self-employed.

"Investing in Deliveroo means associating yourself with the exploitative and unstable business model," IWGB President Alex Marshall said in a statement, adding the strike was planned for April 7, to coincide with the IPO.

The rights of people who work in the so-called "gig economy" have been an increasing focus in Britain. Ride-hailing app Uber gave its workers more entitlements earlier this month after losing a Supreme Court case.

Deliveroo said job satisfaction levels among its 50,000 self-employed riders in Britain was at an all-time high, and that the flexibility they had was a big attraction.

"Thousands apply to work with us every week, reflecting the strong demand for our on-demand model," a company spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by David Holmes)

Trade union calls for Deliveroo UK riders strike to highlight IPO risks