Stuart courier reveals the stresses of working in the gig economy
Martin Buckley was a courier for Stuart in Gateshead for three years. Here, he explains the impact not having workers' rights had on him.
Posted on 25 November 2020
Martin Buckley was a courier for Stuart in Gateshead for three years. Here, he explains the impact not having workers’ rights had on him.
When I started couriering for Stuart I’d already been working for other delivery companies.
What made Stuart more appealing was that they offered a minimum hourly guarantee which meant I had more security.
If you were working an hourly slot then you were guaranteed to make at least £7.50 even if it was quiet, whereas with other companies you’re just paid per job.
But over the years, things got progressively worse. When I started you could book to work a certain zone and you wouldn’t be asked to work outside of that, but now they can send you miles away.
I could be in Gateshead and they’d send me across the river to Newcastle and while I was there, they’d send me to another zone so I could end up three zones outside of where I started.
There’s also a time limit as to how long you can be outside the zone you’re booked into, and if you miss that time limit, you’d lose your minimum guarantee.
You don’t get paid for how far you travel to the pickup location, just for the distance between there and the drop off location, so when you’re travelling around a city centre, you can end up losing money.
I had to have courier insurance which worked out about £7 a day and added to that was the cost of petrol.
I had a brand-new motorbike and within two years it wasn’t road worthy because of the wear and tear.
I started doing jobs on a cyclist account, but they treat you like you’re a professional athlete. The distances they expect you to travel are unrealistic.
If you’re working a slot, then you have to accept whatever job they give you. Once they tried to send me to a restaurant eight miles from where I was.
I contacted them explaining that I didn’t sign up to work multiple zones all at the same time, but their response was the same as it always was, proceed with the order otherwise you’ll lose the minimum guarantee.
In the end I stopped working for them because it was costing me so much and it wasn’t worth the stress.
You go to work to make a living and you end up paying out more than you earn. It just doesn’t make sense.
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