Updates from the Living Wage Foundation

‘Now we’re key workers’. Meet the delivery riders at Living Wage Employer, delivering food in the coronavirus crisis

It’s never been clearer just how much we need our key workers, than in this crisis, and for those of us who are unable to leave our homes altogether, we are particularly thankful to our delivery drivers, or ‘riders’ in the case of Living Wage Employer

But the delivery industry that we so heavily depend on now, has for too long been low-paid and insecure, adopting precarious employment practises of the gig economy. But one Living Wage Employer is breaking that mould – are a sustainable last mile delivery service to grocers and retailers in the UK who strictly “don’t do gig economy”. They fully appreciate that properly employing their riders, paying a real Living Wage and investing in them makes a huge difference. It also means that the face delivering to customers doorstep is familiar as staff want to stay where they feel valued, and in turn the level of service is consistently highly rated. But what does it feel like to be a key worker, delivering essentials at such a critical time in history?

Below, several ‘cargonauts’ as their prefer to be known, share their experiences of being  key workers in this crisis, and the difference the real Living Wage has made to their lives – in the hope that, we build back better from this crisis and ensure all key workers receive at least, a real Living Wage.

Ash, Cargonaut

“In my previous job as a rider, I was looking for more stability with my income as the gig economy can be erratic at best. After researching I was happy to have found which was really local to my home. I was pleased to find they pay the London Living Wage and excited to be working with the incredibly talented team here.  As it’s a start up, I'm looking forward to the management opportunities that lay ahead.

The most notable part recently was when I finished up my last delivery just before 8pm, not realising the weekly clap for carers and key workers would be directed at myself. It was a proud moment! I couldn't help but bow a couple times which was met with laughter.

I hold hope that as our services were relied on in this most critical time in history, helping our most vulnerable in society with essential food supplies, that when we move past this crisis us delivery riders, ‘Cargonauts’ will be seen as a valued and integral part of society.”

Tim, Cargonaut

“Working for a Living Wage Employer engenders mutual respect and is the next best thing to being part of a Workers Cooperative. Delivering for in Covid 19 times has given me a vision of a better city and society, the all-in-it-togetherness helping me make sense of Mum's expression that 'something was better during the war'?! True human values and green shoots seem able to emerge remarkably quickly from this crisis.

I hope this breathing space gives people the chance to re-evaluate our lives and values and where non harmful, non-destructive labour is credited with equal value... No more, no less.”

Ian, Cargonaut

Getting the Living Wage means a lot especially in the current situation with the coronavirus, during this uncertain time, I don't have to worry about not being able to afford rent or other bills, I can concentrate on making sure my loved ones are safe and cared for as I'm living with multiple people who are at high risk. I haven’t personally noticed a change in how our job is received by the public because I’m working from home now. In my opinion our work is very dangerous for the riders at the moment, but in my eyes every single person I work with is a nothing short of a hero and I'm immensely proud to work at and do my part to help those less fortunate.”

Oliver, Cargonaut

Being a key worker is pretty rough. We have to balance the responsibility of what we can do to help against the fact we are putting our own loved ones at risk. It's something I've decided to do but it's still hard to find the motivation every day. Customers thank me, but to be completely honest they did that before - I make them smile. It’s why I like doing this sort of thing. Making people smile!

If I didn't get a Living Wage I couldn't afford to support my family, small as it is - just us and the dog! I really do appreciate the lengths to which are going to for us as workers. I've never really experienced that before. It means a lot.”

Colin, Cargonaut

“Being employed by a Living Wage accredited company allows me to earn enough whilst still devoting enough time to studying, which is a real blessing. To work for a Living Wage company is a daily reminder that I am valued, that I have worth, that my employer respects me and my needs. It tells me that I am employed by an organisation that believes in people and backs that up by rewarding them appropriately.

It's about the spirit of the company, the Living Wage is just another aspect of the approach to a more forward looking take on business, no longer business as usual, a completely new approach can change the world.”


Over a million key workers still do not earn a real Living Wage. We need key workers and they need a real Living Wage. Follow the likes of and over 6000 other UK employers and become a Living Wage Employer today.

13th May 2020
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