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Deliveroo riders go on strike today as tech firm’s unconditional trading begins

Deliveroo riders have gone on strike today over their rights – as the food transport company’s disastrously performing shares begin unconditional trading.

The action by the Independent Workers of Great Britain union could not come as a worse time as stock plummeted after they went on sale last week.

Deliveroo’s shares originally estimated the company to be worth up to £8.8billion, but when selling started they plummeted to more than £3billion shy of that sum.

Retail investors – including thousands of loyal customers – had bought in at £3.90 a share, but today the stock market opened with them worth just £2.80.

It came as members of the IWGB union prepared to go on strike in London, Wolverhampton, Reading, York and Sheffield.

Vice-chair of the courier’s branch Wave Roberts, 24, said of their demands: ‘They are very simple: pay, rights and safety. Essentially riders want more security around their pay, at least minimum wage pay guarantee and the fees to increase dramatically. They want rights, they want an end to end fair terminations, they want to know they will be fairly treated.

Deliveroo riders gather to demonstrate to push for improved working conditions, in London

Deliveroo riders gather to demonstrate to push for improved working conditions, in London

The striking workers want better pay and rights from their bosses in charge at Deliveroo

The striking workers want better pay and rights from their bosses in charge at Deliveroo

The striking workers want better pay and rights from their bosses in charge at Deliveroo

Deliveroo riders from the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain in Shoreditch, London

Deliveroo riders from the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain in Shoreditch, London

Deliveroo riders from the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain in Shoreditch, London

Some Deliveroo riders are set to strike today over pay and conditions working for the company

Some Deliveroo riders are set to strike today over pay and conditions working for the company

Some Deliveroo riders are set to strike today over pay and conditions working for the company

‘In some of our dense areas I am certain there will be a dense impact.

‘We have members in the hundreds but I am not allowed to divulge exact numbers.

‘Customers like to buy into an ethical story. If they know people behind the product, behind the service are treated well and looked after that’s a way to buy in on its own,’ he added to Radio 4.

Founder Will Shu, 41, who was the company’s first rider and still does regular delivery shifts on his bike, was expected to make £500million from the biggest float for a decade.

It had been trumpeted as London’s biggest listing for a decade, raising around £1billion to fund the company’s expansion efforts.

And Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, had even hailed Deliveroo’s decision to go public in London as a ‘true British tech success story’.

Shares at the company were being sold to customers through the app before they floated

Shares at the company were being sold to customers through the app before they floated

Shares at the company were being sold to customers through the app before they floated 

Deliveroo claim the views of the union do not represent the vast majority of its 50,000 self-employed riders in Britain, adding job satisfaction levels was at an all-time high, and that flexibility was a big attraction.

A spokesperson said: ‘This small self appointed union does not represent the vast majority of riders who tell us they value the total flexibility they enjoy while working with Deliveroo alongside the ability to earn over £13 an hour.

‘Only today we ran a survey and 88% of riders said that they were happy with the company and flexibility was their priority.

‘We are proud that rider satisfaction is at an all-time high and that thousands of people are applying to be Deliveroo riders each and every week.

‘Riders are at the heart of our business and today we are beginning a new consultation with riders about how we should invest our new £50m community fund.’

The shy and single Deliveroo ‘geek’ who STILL delivers meals himself, can only cook an omelette and just eats food from his own app

Deliveroo’s founder Will Shu is still expected to be out on his bike delivering food for the company today.

Most entrepreneurs about to take home approaching half a billion pounds would have already have put money down on a mansion or a super car.

But the notoriously private entrepreneur, 41, will probably treat today like any other, spending the day at his terraced house in Notting Hill, or at his office in the City, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner all ordered through the Deliveroo app.

Mr Shu, a self-confessed geeky American who moved to the UK to work for JP Morgan, founded the company in 2013 after being forced to eat Tesco sandwiches and salads during late shifts working as a banker in Canary Wharf. 

Today he runs Britain’s third largest takeaway delivery company, behind Uber Eats and Just Eat, having been Deliveroo’s first rider eight years ago. 

The American-born entrepreneur is described by friends as ‘incredibly intense’ and ‘obsessed’ with the business and food.  But despite his wealth and business success, he is believed to have been single for some, if not all, of his time at the helm.

Mr Shu, who says he is a ‘good tipper’ to the riders who bring his three meals a day by bike or car, still works at least once a week on his bike – but despite his frontline experience his business remains dogged by claims it fails to pay and treat its delivery staff properly.

CEO of Deliveroo William Shu still goes out on his bike for the company that is set to make him £500m

CEO of Deliveroo William Shu still goes out on his bike for the company that is set to make him £500m

CEO of Deliveroo William Shu still goes out on his bike for the company that is set to make him £500m

Yesterday, just 48 hours before launching on the London Stock Exchange, Deliveroo’s maximum potential market valuation fell from £8.8billion to £7.9bn over the issue. But there is still huge interest in the firm, which has never made a profit despite booming sales in lockdown.

It came after two of Britain’s biggest investors will refuse to buy shares in Deliveroo when it launches on the stock market next month because of concerns about how they treat staff. 

At the centre of the controversy is the company’s classification of its riders as ‘self-employed’, meaning they are not entitled to minimum wage, holiday pay or sick leave.

Investors say they have been spooked by the issue, which could cost the company huge sums after Uber agreed to pay their drivers more and give them the same rights as employees after a series of court cases.

Shu is set to offer the group’s most prolific riders up to £10,000 in cash each following the IPO, and customers are also being offered the chance to buy £50million in shares in multiples of £250.

Such is the entrepreneur’s dedication to the business – and love of restaurant food – he orders breakfast, lunch and dinner through Deliveroo.

Mr Shu's first office was a 'death trap' in Maylebone, shared with a company called ISIS and cable channel Gem TV

Mr Shu's first office was a 'death trap' in Maylebone, shared with a company called ISIS and cable channel Gem TV

Mr Shu’s first office was a ‘death trap’ in Maylebone, shared with a company called ISIS and cable channel Gem TV

Although he loves ordering from KFC and Nando’s, Will does tend to order ‘regimented’ meals. 

These include boiled eggs for breakfast, chicken and broccoli for lunch and a salad for dinner from restaurants around his west London home to help avoid piling on the pounds. 

Mr Shu was born to Taiwanese parents in Connecticut in 1979. After getting a degree from Northwestern University he joined JP Morgan, first working in New York and then moving to their London headquarters.

It was there, while wandering Canary Wharf’s mall at night looking for restaurant quality meals, that he cooked up the idea for Deliveroo, setting up the firm and becoming its first rider.

He founded the business with his childhood friend Greg Orlowski, a software engineer who designed the app. Orlowski quit five years ago to spend more time with his daughter in Chicago, but he and Mr Shu remain friends. 

Shu and Orlowski set up shop in a ‘death trap’ office in Marylebone shared with a company called ISIS and cable channel Gem TV. 

The laid back and shy businessman’s, soon to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds, was known for his scruffy clothes and wearing a T-shirt and shorts all year round.

One colleague said: ‘He may have been the only founder who pitched us wearing shorts.

‘He wore shorts for the first four years I worked with him, regardless of the weather or the occasion.’ 

Another said: ‘I’ve seen him do every job in the company – from being a rider to doing customer service to signing up restaurants.

‘His job is incredibly intense and he obsesses over it, but he’s always down to earth and has a laugh’. 

After leaving their first office, they set up their headquarters on the banks of the Thames.

Staff are encouraged to dress casually, with Shu keeping the T-shirt but swapping the shorts for smarter chinos.

In line with many tech firms, the building has plenty of sofas to flop on during the day and even a leisure area with games and a basketball court.

Jaegermeister is available for the staff if they want it, while office chairs are swapped for casual ‘swinging seats’. 


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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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