One of Britain's hottest startups, Deliveroo, has apologised to its drivers for poorly communicating a new trial pay structure which had led to protests in central London.
UK managing director Dan Warne told City A.M. the company was surprised and upset over the matter, but admitted something had clearly gone wrong in the way it consulted drivers on the changes, which it says have already been successfully tested in Chiswick.
"It certainly surprised us. We take pride in dialogue with drivers. It's rare we’ve fallen short in communications of that kind and we’re very sorry to drivers," he said.
"We're upset. We've communicated it poorly. It's tough for us to see this kind of thing. We're not a massive conglomerate, we're a startup," he added.
Drivers, who deliver takeaways from places such as Pizza Express and Wagamama, last week protested in front of the startup's headquarters over the trial in which drivers would receive £3.75 per delivery system rather than a minimum hourly rate of £7 plus £1 per delivery.
Following talks with them, the venture-backed startup changed its plans, guaranteeing at least a wage of £7.50 per hour at busy times and letting those drivers in the new trial areas opt out. The initial plans had prompted a warning from government on minimum wage laws.
Discussions with drivers are ongoing ahead of the trial roll out in other parts of the capital on Wednesday, however, the company said it would not speak with "anyone who claims to represent drivers".
The Independent Workers union is representing some of the drivers and is crowdfunding support, raising more than £8,000 to date.
Warne said it was "certainly not in any rush" to roll out changes quickly in any of the other 84 cities it operates in around the world.
"There are a lot of things we need to think about off the back of this," he said.
"It’s an evolving and exciting space and we have to take a leadership position. With the new model we think we’ve taken to market one that allows drivers to earn more money."
While its research on drivers had indicated that the biggest demand from the majority of drivers was flexibility, it had underestimated how much drivers also wanted security, said Warne.