Food delivery giants Just Eat have announced that they are to axe 1,700 jobs.
The move will see the firm hire gig workers to deliver food rather than continue with the current mix of contracted and self-employed delivery drivers and riders. The company also plans to downsize its operational department, with 170 people thought to be impacted.
The cuts come after the company posted a 9 percent drop in custom last year, as people returned to restaurants in numbers for the first time since the pandemic.
A spokesperson for the company said: ‘Our top priority now is to support impacted employees and couriers. We are hugely grateful to our talented colleagues and couriers who have been part of the worker model in the UK.’
In 2020 Just Eat became the first app-based food delivery platform to adopt employed drivers as part of its business model. Contracted drivers were entitled to a fixed rate of pay, sick pay and other benefits.
The decision to lay off staff and employ gig workers is at odds with recent public messaging. Back in 2021, in a Financial Times article, chief executive, Jitse Groen described gig working as a part of the economy that ‘has led to precarious working conditions across Europe, the worse seen in a hundred years.
‘The gig economy comes at the expense of society and workers themselves,’ he continued.
The Workers Union Says…
Just Eat are not alone in taking the decision to lay off staff. Competitors in the food delivery space such as Deliveroo have also shed headcount, with others in the sector widely predicted to follow.
Company chiefs will spin lines about ‘difficult trading conditions’ and look to deflect attention elsewhere, but the net result is the same for working people. They have heard the good time stories about the value of their work and the evils of the gig economy; and yet this welcome focus on ethics soon seems to ebb away when profits are down.
If bosses really want to drive a jobs market that rewards work, offers flexibility *and* gives people attractive benefits, then they need to support the transition from gig workers to paid employers in bad times as well as good.