Deliveroo workers strike as shares rise on first day of open trading | Business

Deliveroo’s share price rose on its first day of open trading on the stock market on Wednesday even as hundreds of workers across England mounted strike action to protest against their treatment by the takeaway delivery platform.

Some 200 Deliveroo couriers joined a demonstration in London, marching between the Deliveroo HQ and Finsbury Square, according to the strike’s organisers, the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain.

Deliveroo floated on the London Stock Exchange last week, although trading was open only to large institutions until Wednesday. Deliveroo shares had gained 2.5% by Wednesday afternoon to reach 287p. The share price earlier hit a high of 291.7p.

However, they remained well below their opening price last Tuesday of 390p. Deliveroo’s valuation tumbled from an initial £7.5bn to below £5.5bn after opening and the company’s stock market float has been dogged by criticisms of its corporate structure and treatment of workers. Analysis by New Financial, a thinktank, found that Deliveroo’s first-day share price performance put it 1,765th out of 1,775 initial public offerings on London’s stock market.

Some of the City’s largest investors, including Aviva Investors, Legal & General, Aberdeen Standard and BMO Global Asset Management, said they had not invested in Deliveroo in part because of its treatment of workers.

Multiple investors said the company’s insistence that workers are independent contractors rather than salaried employees left it vulnerable to regulatory action. Uber, which operates Uber Eats, a rival to Deliveroo, has been forced to make concessions to workers who it treated similarly.

Investors also raised concerns about intense competition from rivals such as Just Eat Takeaway, which could make it difficult for the loss-making Deliveroo to turn a profit, and a share structure that gives the Deliveroo founder Will Shu control over the company for three years.

Workers also held smaller demonstrations across England on Wednesday, including in Reading, Sheffield, Wolverhampton and York.

Speaking before the march, Alex Marshall, the IWGB’s president and a former bicycle courier, said workers were protesting about Deliveroo’s treatment of workers. “Deliveroo presents a false choice between flexibility and basic rights,” he said.

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Deliveroo denied that it treats workers poorly. It said a survey it ran on Tuesday showed that 89% of 8,500 riders surveyed said they were “satisfied or very satisfied” with the company and flexibility was their priority.

A Deliveroo spokeswoman said: “This small, self-appointed union does not represent the vast majority of riders who tell us they value the total flexibility they enjoy while working with Deliveroo alongside the ability to earn over £13 an hour.

“We are proud that rider satisfaction is at an all-time high and that thousands of people are applying to be Deliveroo riders each and every week.”

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