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Labour: protect worker rights, not gig employers

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/EIN News/ — OTTAWA, March 24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian Labour Congress and provincial and territorial federations of labour find Uber’s self-serving proposal for Flexible Work+ dangerous, undermining and offensive to the rights and dignity of workers. The plan, rolled out over the past few weeks, signals the companies’ intention to pressure governments to invent a niche category for app-based employment. Like Proposition 22 in California, Uber now wants to enshrine insecurity and inferior work conditions into Canadian legislation while undermining the right of workers to organize.

The Canadian labour movement stands united with the growing global movement demanding full rights and protections for gig economy workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many lessons. It has shown the depth and breadth of precarious work in our country. And it has shone a light on the essential labour delivered by many workers — work that is typically underpaid and undervalued. Grocery store workers, delivery drivers, bike couriers and many others play a critical role in keeping our economy moving and ensuring that we have essential supplies. This work matters, and these workers matter.

Governments have a responsibility to make work better – to provide workers with security, safety and fair pay. Workers are making it clear they want this too. Globally, app-based workers are standing up, overturning misclassification as independent contractors and coming together to improve their working conditions. The recent Supreme Court decision in the UK and similar decisions in Spain and South Korea show us that around the world, the tide is turning towards rights for app-based workers.

Uber is playing hardball politics while attempting to block the movement for fairness and justice for gig economy workers. If Uber wanted to provide its workers with benefits or enhanced training, it could do so right now.

Further, workers drawn to Uber and other app-based employment by the promise of flexibility find they are left at the mercy of swings in consumer demands and algorithms that determine when they should work and how much they will earn. They have little to no protection or recourse from arbitrary deactivation or changes in the terms and conditions of their work. Many workers report their pay has steadily declined, and during the pandemic, they experience working conditions that endanger their safety.

App-based workers should have the same full protections and employment rights as other workers. They must also have the fundamental right to organize and bargain collectively. There is too much at stake for us to get this wrong. Worker rights are about more than just individuals; they are the foundation of many of our most important social programs. The Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan and Employment Insurance rely on the participation of workers and employers. It’s a commitment to our economic security while at work and in retirement. The rights of gig workers are entwined with all of us.

We call on the provincial, territorial and federal governments to protect gig and app based workers by:

  • Applying employment standards universally and eliminating exceptions and special categories that restrict worker rights;
  • Proactively addressing the misclassification of workers as independent contractors and reversing the legal onus so employers must prove a worker is not an employee and is truly an independent contractor; and
  • Ensuring all workers have the right to organize into a union should they choose and making that right meaningful by addressing barriers to organizing.

Endorsing bodies:
Canadian Labour Congress
Alberta Federation of Labour
British Columbia Federation of Labour
Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec
Manitoba Federation of Labour
New Brunswick Federation of Labour
Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour
Northern Territories Federation of Labour
Nova Scotia Federation of Labour
Ontario Federation of Labour
Prince Edward Island Federation of Labour
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
Yukon Federation of Labour

To arrange an interview, please contact:
CLC Media Relations
media@clcctc.ca
613-526-7426


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How Proposition 22 Blocks Cities and Counties From Giving Hazard Pay to Gig Workers

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Haney added that Proposition 22 has given gig companies legal grounds to sue and block an ordinance like this if they decide they don’t want to comply with it.

“Sometimes, as a local government, we are preempted by the states or feds, but usually when that’s the case, another regulatory body or the state Legislature is taking up the responsibility,” Haney said. “What’s the case here is that some regulations that were written into law by the companies and passed by the voters have made it impossible for anyone to provide more extensive and stronger regulations.”

Rey Fuentes, a legal fellow at the Partnership for Working Families, said California cities and counties have a history of pioneering progressive pro-worker legislation, like San Francisco’s paid sick leave program, which he said was the first of its kind in the nation.

Fuentes said it’s important for municipalities to test new policies out so that there are models for state and federal laws. “This allows for the experimentation that I think is so vital to our democracy and to developing good policy,” he said.

While grocery stores are pushing back on the hazard pay by temporarily closing locations and threatening legal action, gig companies don’t have to. Proposition 22 stops local governments from even trying to get higher wages or better benefits for gig workers, halting local experimentation with policy that could help the state’s growing number of app-based gig workers who are denied employee benefits and protections.

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UK Deliveroo riders to strike over pay, gig work conditions

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Wednesday, April 07 2021
AP

LONDON (AP) — Riders for the app-based meal delivery platform Deliveroo held a strike in London Wednesday over pay and working conditions, part of a broader backlash against one of the U.K.’s biggest gig economy companies.

Scooter and bicycle delivery riders waving flags and red smoke flares rode through the streets of Central London. Socially distanced protests were also planned in York, Reading, Sheffield and Wolverhampton to demand fair pay, safety protections and basic workers’ rights.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, which represents migrant and gig workers, expected hundreds of riders to take part.

Deliveroo said that “this small self-appointed union does not represent the vast majority of riders who tell us they value the total flexibility they enjoy.” Rider surveys found most are happy with the company and flexibility was their priority, the company said in a statement.

The strike coincides with the first day of unconditional share trading for Deliveroo, which went public last week in a multibillion pound stock offering that was one of Europe’s most hotly anticipated IPOs this year. However, a number of institutional investors skipped the initial public offering, citing concerns about employment conditions for riders and a dual-class shareholder structure that gives founder Will Shu outsize control.

The company, which operates in a dozen countries in Europe, the Mideast and Asia, saw its business boom over the past year because of COVID-19 restrictions that powered demand for meal deliveries. More than 6 million customers order through its app each month and the company promised some longtime riders bonuses from the IPO.

However, riders say they haven’t been sharing in the success because the company has been paying them less.

The “success they claim to have had during the pandemic was built on our backs,” said Wave Roberts, a Deliveroo rider in Reading and vice chair of the union’s couriers branch. “It’s not sustainable. It’s got to the point where they’ve hired too many people. They’ve lowered the fees too much.”

Deliveroo and other gig companies in the U.K. that rely on flexible workforces are also facing looming regulatory challenges, after the U.K.’s top court ruled Uber drivers should be classed as “workers” and not self-employed, entitling them to benefits such as minimum wage and pensions.

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For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit https://apnews.com/apf-technology

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Follow Kelvin Chan at www.twitter.com/chanman

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This story corrects Roberts’ title to vice chair of union’s couriers branch.

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