‘IT’S shite,” he says tae us, handin owre the muckle green rucksack. “If ye’re daein an article aboot this, mind an tell folk it’s shite.”

I wis aff tae dae a shift o Deliveroo. This guy, a pal o a pal, wis gien us a shottie o his bag an login tae the app. I wantit tae gie this new form o the gig economy a birl. An this cheil’s coorse condemnation o the hail system wasnae gien us the clear heid needit fir a review. Sae I thanked him, loupit on ma bike an heidit hame.

It isnae easy tae get a gig wi Deliveroo. The application process online taks twa minutes, but Aiberdeen at least wis stowed oot wi riders, sae they wernae bringin on new fowk. Same wi Uber Eats, thon ither freelance delivery service. That’s how I wis haein tae get a shot o some ither rider’s bag an app access.

Deliveroo shifts in Aiberdeen are rarer nor a positive case for the Union. Ye cannae just bung on a bag an breenge oot intae the streets like a takeaway vigilante. Ye hae tae bide on a list hunners o fowk lang waitin on a shift.

I got gien a ane-hour shift twa days aifter applyin. A single hour. Aifter twa days o waitin.

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Still, it wisnae a bad shift. 6-7pm. I got masel logged in tae the app, pit on ma ticht cyclin shorts an ma hi-vis an birlt doon the toon centre. The job couldnae be easier. The app lets ye ken there’s an order, ye peddle alang tae the takeaway, pick it up, fire up tae the person’s hoose that ordered it, an drap it aff. Nae siller exchanged, nae barcode scannin. Absolute nae hassle.

I made three deliveries, aa fae keich American fast food places, aa delivered tae young twenty-something lassies, twa oot the three bidin in student accomodation. I traivelled eight miles aroon toon an burnt three hunner calories. I wis peyed £12.47.

Ma first thocht wis “whaur wis this whan I wis sat on the dole?”. Back in thae dulsome days whan £53 a week brocht in ma life’s horizons sae ticht that they gied us claustrophobia, the ability tae get oot an get ma hauns on £12 o undeclared income wad hae been a genuinely muckle improvement.

I ken students wha ging oot aince or twice a week an bring in siller eneuch tae pey fir a nicht oot, let them pit their heatin on a bitty langer in winter an that. Twa hours a week wad gie ye aboot twa hunner pund a month. Gin ye are atween jobs, a student, or arnae gettin hours at yer main job, then Deliveroo isnae a bad stopgap.

It’s braw anaa gin ye cannae speak the leid o the place ye’re bidin. Owre the hail extent o ma shift I didnae hae tae read or speak a wird o English or Scots tae onybody. The app comes in ony leid ye want. Whit a boon fir migrants that are mibbie ettlin tae lairn the leid but maun earn a bitty siller in the meantime.

£12 an hour is a decent rate, nae doot, but it’s just a heidline figure that hides the true cost. In ane o the various phases o ma auld life, I wis a moped pizza delivery rider. I wis peyed aroon £7 an hour. Nae contest then, eh? A fiver an hour mair. Lang live the gig economy, lang live the austeure beauty o lean capitalism. No quite.

The laddie that gied me a shottie o his Deliveroo bag an shift wis richt: Deliveroo is a load o shite. There’s nae gettin awa fae it.

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Wi the pizza chain, I was gied holiday pay based on an accrual o hours workit. I wis also gied protective gear o guid quality, tae stap me duntin ma heid if I skitit aff. Aifter a few hours wark I’d get a free pizza an a tin o juice, an a muckle comfy airmchair through ben in the shop tae chill oot in – bein peyed aa the time. I wis gien agreed hours in advance. I could aye haggle up or doon based on whit I wis daein that week an whit sortae siller I wis needin.

There wis a toilet I could use. This micht soon awfy basic but it’s basics denied tae the cyclists ye see breengin past ootside. Inability tae get a pee is a real issue fir Deliveroo fowk at times.

Maist importantly, mair important than a cludgie an a free pizza, they gied me protection. Whan a scooter delivery rider wis pushed aroon, robbed an threatened in ae roch pairt o Aiberdeen, the boss o the franchise said we wernae deliverin there onymair. He wadnae risk riders.

Also, whan ma ain chaotic an illegal ridin style gard drivers dae their dingers, I didnae hae tae face them my lane. Ae time a cheil wi a teardrap tattoo aside his ee cam in aboot the shop speirin whaur aboot the scooter rider that’d just skipped twa reid lichts wis. I hid ahind toom tooers o pizza boxes. Ma boss an a muckle Polish bodybuilder colleague got the driver tae simmer doon an get oot. Had I been a Deliveroo rider, I’dve been on ma tod, an hae tane a bleachin.

Courier riders doon sooth hae been victims o acid attacks, an ither assaults. The hotspots o violence an risk havnae been cordoned aff by the Deliveroo app. Young lads an lassies, vulnerable migrants are still cyclin in tae danger areas wioot protection. They are unner pressure tae mak the delivery an keep their guid reputation wi the firm.

Insteid o protectin staff, a wee button’s been installed on the phone app whaur ye can let fowk in some distant office ken ye feel threatened. Some solace tae the puir craiters screamin an rowin aboot in the clart, clutchin their burnin pus.

I’m in favour o the gig economy. I hae social anxiety that maks workin in an office a tyauve, an the idea o bein liberatit fae wark heirarchies soons richt up ma close. The gig economy also gies migrants an fowk temporarily skint a guid option that’s aheid o gingin tae the pawn or the loan sharks tae get a few essential bawbees. But Deliveroo an ithers are ruinin it fir aabdy. By peyin us a bawhair aboon whit we’d earn onyroads, but wioot a single basic protection, they are gien us a pey stagnation alang wi a boke-inducin drap in employment stannarts.

Deliveroo arnae satan theirsels. But they are takkin advantage o the deliverers an an economy wi a glut o unner employed fowk luikin oot fir spare siller. Tae mak the gig economy a mair viable lang-term pairt o oor society, we maun force the protections up an demand a higher stannart fae them an aabdy else in the sector.