Fast food delivery drivers staged a boycott of McDonald’s in Dalston over a row about parking fines they are racking up in a nearby street.
Dozens of motorcyclists and e-bike delivery drivers refused to take on home deliveries from the popular eatery during a five-hour boycott on 17 September.
They are fed up with getting parking fines from Hackney Council if they wait too long in nearby Ashwin Street.
Drivers want McDonald’s to let them wait in its car park on Abbott Street.
They held meetings with Hackney Council, which suggested they use the Bentley Road car park on the other side of the Kingsland Road junction with Balls Pond Road instead.
However, drivers said the car park is further away from some of the restaurants where they collect food and does not offer toilets or shelter. It has electric vehicle chargers and is sometimes closed for use as a coronavirus testing centre.
Couriers said they thought the delivery yard at the back of McDonald’s could provide a solution.
“This would reduce the noise on neighbouring Ashwin Street that has been a cause of concern for local residents but it is also an acceptable distance from restaurants and facilities,” according to the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain.
The union added: “Food couriers provide a vital service for the community, delivering essential goods to vulnerable people and helping restaurants stay afloat during the pandemic.”
Driver Alvaro Rugma said: “We are just here to make a wage and feed our families.”
He explained that about 85 per cent of drivers’ orders come from McDonald’s customers: “Everyone is asking for a solution but we do not agree with the solution to move to the car park.
“We need to be here near McDonald’s so we can get the food to the customers quickly.”
Another driver called George said he had collected fines near the restaurant and said he works 10- to 12-hour days on the road: “Normally I do 30 deliveries a day. We have to pay fines, insurance and road tax.”
He gets paid a rate per delivery, rather than a salary or hourly rate, so he said the fines hit drivers like him hard.
Drivers who deliver food from other nearby restaurants also use the street to wait and joined the protest.
A McDonald’s spokesman said: “While McDonald’s has access to use the area behind our restaurant, it falls outside of our demise and we do not have the right to grant access for others to use it.
“We have been working with our delivery partners Hackney Council and the police to find a positive solution that works for residents, businesses and couriers alike.”
He explained that the yard is in regular use for deliveries and is shared with another business, and that it would pose “a significant health and safety risk” if couriers used it as a waiting area.
The drivers do not work for McDonald’s and satisfy delivery orders from a range of food businesses in Dalston.
A notice in the shop window from delivery firms asks the couriers to avoid parking on Ashwin Street or the pavements whilst awaiting orders and to use the Bentley Road car park instead.
It suggested they ask if they need to use the toilet and added: “Please be respectful of the local residents when arriving and leaving the restaurant and keep the noise level to a minimum.”