(AFP) – Striking French couriers. Spanish court setbacks. The white flag of surrender raised over Germany.
British food delivery company Deliveroo – its boxy lime-blue bags a welcome sight for legions of office workers across London – is hitting sudden bumps on other European roads.
The rough times come as a growing group of startups jostle for the pocketbooks of hungry city dwellers craving for that special burger or lunch bento box.
Deliveroo has helped revolutionise meals on wheels in much the same way as Uber – which has a rival food catering app – has upended the taxi market.
It is now encountering identical questions over whether its employment schemes meet labour laws across around 200 cities where it has set up shop.
Its tens of thousands of delivery workers – most of them young men on bikes and scooters – are officially self-employed and deprived of a minimum wage or paid leave.
They must also provide their own means of transportation and smartphones that keep them connected to both clients and dispatchers.
This arrangement prompted Deliveroo’s French bikers to call for clients to boycott the brand last week.
Discontent in Deliveroo’s second-biggest market after Britain boiled over only days after a Madrid court ruled that it had wrongly signed up more than 500 riders to self-employed contractors.
Deliveroo has appealed the ruling but faces several more similar cases in Spain later this year.
These cost-cutting contracts are being tested at a turbulent time for a new service that is booming in popularity but unable to turn a profit.