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Riders hired by Deliveroo cannot be represented by a trade union for the purposes of collective bargaining, the Supreme Court has ruled.
The decision is the latest in a long-running dispute, which began when a union tried to represent a group of riders over pay and conditions.
The case was previously dismissed by lower courts but an appeal was brought to the Supreme Court.
However, judges at the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal.
Judge Vivien Rose said Deliveroo riders did not have an “employment relationship” with the food courier company and were not entitled to compulsory collective bargaining.
Collective bargaining is an official process in which trade unions negotiate with employers on behalf of their members.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which brought the case, said the ruling was a “disappointment”.
“As a union we cannot accept that thousands of riders should be working without key protections like the right to collective bargaining,” it said in a statement, adding it would continue to explore legal “avenues”.
“Whether reflected in legislation or not, couriers are joining the union in ever bigger numbers and building our collective power to take action and hold companies like Deliveroo to account,” it added.
The case follows a number of claims brought by workers in the “gig” economy in recent years, demanding rights such as holiday pay, the minimum wage and pensions contributions.
In 2017, the IWGB was first refused permission to represent riders on the basis they were not classed as “workers” under UK labour law.
It put forward a legal case, but riders were ruled to be self-employed by labour law body the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).
The union has since been mounting a number of appeals, reaching the Supreme Court.
A Deliveroo spokesperson said that the UK had “repeatedly and at every level” confirmed that its riders “are self-employed”.
“This is a positive judgment for Deliveroo riders, who value the flexibility that self-employed work offers,” they added.
However, the IWGB argued “flexibility, including the option for account substitution, is no reason to strip workers of basic entitlements like fair pay and collective bargaining rights”.
5 December 2018
14 November 2017