Delivery drivers in stab vests strike against 'slave' wages and poor job security, after Takieddine Boudhane murder
PUBLISHED: 18:49 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:54 16 January 2020
Scores of scared delivery drivers went on strike in Highbury today to protest their alleged "slave" wages and poor job security, following the murder of Takieddine Boudhane.
The gig economy workers - including one man wearing a stab proof vest - called on Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat to invest in ways to keep them safe at work, while also offering them improved pay and proper contracts.
Takieddine was working as a delivery driver for Uber Eats and Deliveroo when he was stabbed in Lennox Road at about 6.50pm on January 3, following a traffic altercation with the driver of a white van.
The suspected killer is believed to have fled to Austria and an international manhunt is underway to catch him.
Islington's top cop Ch Supt Raj Kohli this week told the Gazette the force takes a "zero tolerance" approach to abuse and violence against delivery drivers.
He also suggested companies like Uber have a "moral and financial" responsibilty to help police and the local authority to keep drivers safe.
Yassine Hamama, who knew Takieddine and was at the scene soon after he was stabbed, told the Gazette: "I haven't worked since when Taki was stabbed because I can't do my job properly with no safety, every day I think about Taki. He worked like me to earn his living but was killed. What happened to Taki may well happen to me and other drivers.
We are not safe because at all in London."
He added: "When I applied to work for Uber they said: 'You're self-employed', but when I started doing the job I realised I was slave employed. Some weeks I work 92 hours just to survive." Uber did not respond to drivers comments about pay or demands for proper contracts, but said nothing is more important than its drivers safety.
Alee, who mostly works for Uber Eats, added: "I brought a stab proof vest on Ebay [after Taki died] because it's not safe anymore. Every time I'm on night shift someone stops me and tries to take my bike for no reason. I'm wearing the knife vest to protect myself from stab attacks. Since Taki's attack it made me mindful, so I need to think about myself, my family, my life.
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Fatah Amrh added: "Before this job was good but in the past years it's every bad. Sometimes I collect deliveries from Upper Street and take it to Dalston and we are only paid like £2.65, maximum £2.90."
Elias told the Gazette: "Two days ago I was in Highbury Corner, in Highbury Grove. Two guys came to me and they said: 'Are you looking at me?' Then we had an argument when I was trying to park my bike. Someone came behind me and punched me in my back and someone else pushed my bike over. It made me angry, it happens a lot. I have had guys follow me and steal my bike."
Elias added: "Customers are rude and we are not safe when on the road, sometimes we feel thankful when we go home to take a shower that there wasn't an accident or trouble that day. My bike was stolen from the Caledonian Estate a few months ago."
Mohamed Yemmi, 30, said: "I work for Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat. It has become too dangerous to do the job, we are taking really high risks for very low pay. We feel threatened."
An Uber Eats spokesperson said: "This was a horrific attack on a courier in London and there is no place for this kind of senseless violence.
"There is nothing more important than the safety of couriers who use the Uber Eats app. When it comes to safety, our work is never done and we will keep listening, learning and improving."
A Deliveroo spokesperson said the firm takes "drivers safety and security extremely seriously", adding: "We are in touch with the organisers of today's gathering and aim to arrange a series of meetings with them to discuss their concerns. We are committed to supporting all of our riders.
"The death of Taki Boudhane was a tragedy. We have offered our condolences to his family and friends and remain in contact. We will continue to offer our support.
"All Deliveroo riders are automatically insured when out on the road, protecting them in the case of an accident or assault. We have a dedicated rider team in place to assist our riders following an accident and support with any safety concerns. We will be rolling out new features in the coming weeks."
A Just Eat spokesperson said they do not run their own delivery network in north London and that the third party company they work with were not impacted by the strike.
A spokesperson for Just Eat said: "The safety of any courier delivering on behalf of Just Eat is extremely important to us. Whenever we are made aware of an incident, we will always investigate with our partners and provide support as needed."