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A delivery driver for the app Deliveroo prepares to make a delivery, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Sept. 9, 2021.Jon Gambrell/The Associated Press

Deliveroo has suspended plans to cut rider earnings in the United Arab Emirates after a rare strike by foreign delivery workers in the Gulf Arab state over working conditions disrupted services on Sunday.

The company said in an email to restaurants on Monday, which was seen by Reuters, it was pausing what it called a proposed change in rider fee structure and that it would engage with riders over the weeks and months ahead.

A day earlier, Deliveroo had informed restaurants that “riders are striking and refusing to attend their shifts or deliver orders” and said it would “protect Deliveroo rider earnings to remain the most competitive in the market.”

A Deliveroo spokesperson confirmed to Reuters the company was halting all changes and that it would work with delivery riders to ensure a structure that worked for everyone.

“Our initial intention with the announcement was to propose a more well-rounded structure for rider earnings in addition to other incentives,” the Deliveroo spokesperson said without providing details.

“It is clear that some of our original intentions have not been clear and we are listening to riders.”

Social media posts on Sunday showed large groups of delivery drivers in teal-colored Deliveroo uniforms striking in Dubai against pay cuts and extended working hours.

A Deliveroo rider told Reuters the strike action was taken after the company sought to cut wages by about 15% to 8.75 dirhams ($2.38) per delivery and extend shifts by three hours to 12.

The rider, a Pakistani, told Reuters after fuel, housing and recruitment related costs his take home salary working more than 60 hours a week was 390 dirhams ($106) a month.

The rider said that while Deliveroo had scrapped the pay cut, his current roster continued to show 12 hour daily shifts.

Authorities in the UAE, where independent trade unions and labour strikes are banned, did not respond to requests for comment.

Human rights group Equidem urged Deliveroo to provide workers with a living wage, alleging riders were paying for fuel, housing and visa costs out of their own pockets.

Equidem, in a statement, also called on UAE authorities to permit trade unions and not punish workers who go on strike.

Human rights groups have criticized the UAE and other Gulf states for their treatment of low-paid migrant workers who make up a large part of the workforce.

Those in blue collar jobs are most vulnerable to exploitation, typically living in cramped quarters and working long hours, having paid high recruitment fees, activists say.

In response to the Deliveroo strike, some users on social media called for a boycott of the company while others encouraged people to tip delivery workers.

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