11 September 2019

A hopeful story about organising in the so-called gig economy from Jack Shenker’s Now We Have Your Attention: “organised resistance by digitally outsourced workers has erupted repeatedly on the streets of major cities in recent years, usually beginning in the back alley spots where delivery riders are encouraged by their apps to congregate and then fanning out rapidly through WhatsApp networks, word of mouth and some technological trickery. In 2016, for example, an announcement by Deliveroo that it would soon be unilaterally altering its rider payment structure prompted a six-day ‘strike’ in which riders acted en masse to make themselves unavailable for orders. Colleagues from Deliveroo’s rivals, Uber Eats, swiftly followed suit, and began taking advantage of a promotional offer within the app that granted new customers £5 off their first order. By repeatedly creating new accounts and ordering low-value meals to be delivered to the picket line, the strikers amassed both a mountain of free food at Uber’s expense and a steady stream of fellow riders, who would turn up with the order only to be met by a sea of radicalised peers cheering their arrival and chanting ‘Log out, log out!’” (There is a long excerpt from the book in The Guardian.)