17 november, Amsterdam: demonstration at Gorillas head office

Banner at a solidarity action in Leiden at October 7th.

“In a time where the work-life balance has been seriously compromised (along with an increasing cost of living) and our employment choices have been reduced due to recent world events, we have found ourselves working for newly established ‘online supermarkets’, with Gorillas being one of them. Some of us who worked at the company since the beginning of this year might have noticed at how disorganized the company has become: faulty equipment and bikes, payslip inaccuracies and the most unaceptable of all for such a physically demanding job, busy shifts with an insufficient amount of staff. What should also receive our attention is how Gorillas has the right to change policies that weren’t present in our contracts to begin with: from reduced pay for sick leave, to shifts that now begin almost half-hour earlier than usual, since Gorillas needs to find a way to profit even from our breaks”, in their call for the action.

“Join the action to: protest against Gorillas firing our striking colleagues in Germany! And to demand better pay and better conditions!”

November 17th
At 16:00 hrs
Leidse Bosje
(across the bridge from Leidse Plein)

“In a time where society is in an uncertain change (and with our job being considered as ‘essential’ in the ongoing pandemic), we must not let these crushing policies become the norm for an already struggling working class. We call you to demonstrate with us at Gorilla’s Amsterdam headquarters, we must let our collective voices be heard and show solidarity not only to the riders in the Netherlands, but also our comrades in Germany and every rider all over the world struggling with similar problems. Strength comes in numbers and each one of us will represent the nail that will seal these decadent, greedy practices to it’s coffin.”

The action is also supported by Vloerwerk. They wrote: “The bicycle couriers can really say that they have a trade union movement. It is international and couriers infect each other with the struggle. From the Philippines to England, Spain, Greece…. everywhere radical, independent, grassroots unions are emerging in this rider movement. In Germany, an epic battle is underway between the anarchist FAU union and the courier companies. The couriers have achieved great victories through hard actions at the German Thuisbezorgd, Lieferando: an end to flex, real permanent contracts, and various improvements. Two companies, including Flink, scared of strikes followed Lieferando’s example. Big wins by organizing and staking! In the Netherlands, the trade union movement has been going to courts against such constructions since 2017. Thus far this has mainly resulted in a lot of money and years of work being lost.

Gorillas decided to hit hard and sink their own ship in the process rather than respect workers. Months of strikes and large-scale solidarity actions were broken with brutal union busting. The Radical Riders emerged directly from a group of workers who organized solidarity actions at German request in June and July. After these solidarity actions, they decided to go ahead and start their own union right away!

In Germany, meanwhile, the workers had a rough sea. If you stood up for your rights, you were fired and replaced, even though several times a dismissal was forced back by the activists. They did this by blocking warehouses in addition to striking. However, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on October 7 that 350 strikers had been fired, although the exact number is doubted. This strike wave has been defeated at Gorillas. As a company, Gorillas has meanwhile sacrificed 70% of its stock value in the fight against the anarchist-inspired German couriers.

However, the battle is far from over. The Germans demand the reversal of the layoffs and demand recognition of the right to strike at European level. The Radical Riders, together with organizers from Germany, have decided to coordinate their actions in this campaign. It is already one battle, the question is whether we join in or continue to watch. The Germans want to put on their largest rider demonstration on the 15th.”

Eric Krebbers