Emergency fund meeting Tuesday 15th Foundry
10.04.08 by Buffalo Bill
After the traumatic day last month when two London cycle couriers were injured in separate collisions with HGV/LGV/lorries in the same morning, the London bicycle messenger community set its collective mind to raising money. Most couriers are classified as self-employed sub-contractors for tax purposes, and as such, are not entitled to any kind of sick pay (or holiday pay, for that matter).
So when a messenger is injured, they will not earn. Given the perils of bicycle delivery, documented in a Harvard Medical School report published in 2002 which estimated that Boston couriers suffer occupational injuries at 14 times the US average, and 4 times the rate of the next highest group, meat packers, it is likely that most couriers will be forced to take time off due to injury suffered at work at some time during their courier life.
If you are up to date with your National Insurance contributions, then you will probably be entitled to claim Incapacity Benefit. But the claim will take time to process, and most claimants will only be entitled to around £65 per week. Of course, for one reason or another, some messengers will not be entitled to claim IB. For all of these reasons, I was delighted to see the London messenger community act, and act decisively, to help their friends and colleagues. The word was spread, the hat was passed, and fund-raising events were organised.
Chewy declined his share of the money, but as was reported here, Ephraim received a not inconsiderable sum last week. Of course, given that Effri hasn’t worked for over a month now, and is unlikely to be able to do any cycling for a while, the money will not cover his lost earnings. But it certainly will make a difference.
And the effect of knowing that your fellow messengers (and others) actually give enough of a shit to do something to help should not be under-estimated. Many years ago, I was unable to work for several months because a driver broke my ankle. The company that I worked for, On Yer Bike, did not send me so much as a ‘Get Well Soon, Loser!’ card. Only two riders kept in touch, Andy Capp and Alison Henry. It was only because my then girlfriend (thanks Emma!), and Andy, were able to lend me money that I was able to feed myself. It was a miserable and depressing experience, and one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
So I am delighted that the people behind the fund-raising efforts have decided that they are willing to shoulder the responsibility of setting up an Emergency Fund for London messengers. If you want to participate in the organisation of the Fund, then you can come along to the meeting, which is being held at the Foundry, 6.30pm 15th April. Decisions that might be taken: who will be entitled to pay-outs, and in what circumstances; who will look after the money; what the fund will be called; and most importantly, what will be done to raise more money.
My congratulations to the organisers. Moving Target will support the fund as much as is possible.
To find out more, and participate in discussion of the fund ahead of the meeting see the MT forum.