Union uproar as gig economy workers slapped with hefty fines for couriering in York City centre

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

The Independent Workers Great Britain (IWGB) union, representing couriers in York have slammed York Police for issuing fines to gig economy workers who have attempted to deliver food, groceries and prescriptions within the centre of York's pedestrianised area during lockdown.

The outrage comes as a video released on social media showed a Deliveroo bike courier being stopped and searched by two officers.

Ethan Bradley, the courier filmed, said: "I was absolutely shocked by the confrontational behaviour of the officer. He not only grabbed my handlebars and threatened me with arrest if I did not give my details... by not using protective equipment, he put me and my customers at risk."

In response to the incident, IWGB Couriers York, said: "York couriers demand better treatment and access while carrying out their vital key workers roles during covid-19 pandemic and less treatment from law enforcement like this."

The stance by the police to issue fines comes as measures were put in place prior to the coronavirus pandemic to crack down on reckless drivers, by prohibiting access to the city centre; action supported by the IWGB.

A spokesperson for the union has said that they were made aware and were of the belief that due to the coronavirus outbreak, these strict measures had been lifted; a detail they had passed on to their members.

The IWGB have written to the Traffic Team Leader of City of York Council to ask for clarification on the rules and for more support for its members in regards to the ongoing situation.

In the letter, made public, it says: "It is unreasonable for North Yorkshire Police or York City Council to pursue our members and any other couriers - who are key workers - for financial penalties when it is the authorities who are culpable of inconsistent enforcement of the traffic regulations they have themselves set.

"York IWGB, again, implores the York City Council officers and North Yorkshire Police to liaise as a matter of urgency in order to:

  • Immediately clarify enforcement of rules for couriers in the pedestrianised area of York city centre;

  • Suspend the prohibition of couriers from the city centre for the duration of "stay at home" directive by UK government;

  • Work with all couriers and especially those financially penalised while carrying out deliveries as key workers; and

  • Seek to cancel any fines that have been issued to key workers."

Labour & Co-operative MP for York Central, Rachael Maskell, has shown her support for the union and its members by way of a letter to North Yorkshire Police.

The IWGB have said the pressure is "piling on" for these fines to be dropped with increasing support from Rachael Maskell and other York Labour councillors.

Image credits: Twitter - @CouriersYork

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