High Court rejects claim that collective bargaining is a human right

The High Court has rejected the claim that Deliveroo couriers have a human right to collective bargaining in accordance to Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

6 Dec 2018| News

Photo by Mahosadha Ong

Riders for the company appealed to the High Court after losing their first case at the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), in which they applied for the right to create a collective bargaining unit.

The CAC agreed that a majority of the couriers in the proposed collective bargaining unit wanted to be represented by the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union, which brought the case, but turned down their request because it believed a substitution clause added to the riders’ contracts meant that they were “self-employed” rather than “workers” or “employees” and therefore had no right to collective bargaining.

John Hendy QC, representing the riders in a judicial review brought by the IGWB in an attempt to overturn this decision, told the High Court that the ECHR should be read in such a way “so as to conclude that the right to bargain collectively is, indeed, that of ‘everyone’ with no exemption being permitted for the self-employed”.

He pointed out that the only exceptions to the right to form a collective bargaining unit made explicit by the ECHR are for certain emergency services like the police and armed forces.

In his judgment, released yesterday (05 December 2018), Justice Supperstone upheld the CAC’s initial ruling – a decision that the IWGB has pledged to fight.

General Secretary of the union, Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, described the ruling as “a terrible one, not just in terms of what it means for low-paid Deliveroo riders, but also in terms of understanding the European Convention on Human Rights”.

“Deliveroo riders should be entitled to basic worker rights as well as to the ability to be represented by trade unions to negotiate pay and terms and conditions,” he added.

“The IWGB will appeal this decision and continue to fight for these rights until we are victorious”.