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More relaxed province as COVID rules disappear will likely hurt gig worker income

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In the middle of the pandemic last summer, Samouel Garinis saw an opportunity to earn an income delivering meals to people stuck at home.

As a new full-time Skip the Dishes driver in Fredericton, Garinis made about $20 an hour during good weeks and as little as $5 an hour when times were tough.

Now, after witnessing a decrease in orders as the province sheds COVID-19 restrictions, he is wondering what will become the new norm.

“The glamour does fade away,” said the 21-year-old. “It’s not as fun as it was when I first started, but I still look upon it well.

“It’s a very free job — I can listen to music, podcasts, I can pick my shifts for whenever, really. As long as someone else hasn’t swiped away those shifts already.”

Garinis works for Skip the Dishes about 40 hours a week. The autonomy of being his own boss, choosing his shifts, and listening to his own music has helped level off the income insecurity. (Edwin Hunter)

Garinis said that every Thursday, Skip the Dishes shifts for the next week become available randomly throughout the afternoon, up for grabs for any driver to claim. This is the most stressful part of his week.

“You don’t know how good a day is going to be,” Garinis said. “It might be horrible one day, it might be great another. Obviously, with the pandemic slowing down it’s going to get less busy of course — but that’s the main bit of it. It’s just not a very stable job.”

Statistics Canada, which describes gig workers as self-employed freelancers, on-demand online workers and day labourers, found they represented about eight to 10 per cent of all Canadian workers in 2016, according to the agency’s most recent data.

Before the pandemic arrived in Canada in 2020, an estimated 10 per cent of Canadians worked in the gig economy, Statscan says. 

App couriers are seeing a slowdown with their side-hustle as the province moves into Phase 2. 1:47

Gig worker Megan Foster of Fredericton said the meal delivery platforms Skip the Dishes and DoorDash and grocery counterpart Instacart were not widely used in the city until last year, when the pandemic started keeping people at home. 

The meal delivery platforms are often grouped alongside ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft for offering on-demand delivery and transportation services.

“I didn’t even know any of them, like none of them existed,” Foster said of the three food delivery platforms she now works for.

“And then the pandemic hit and people needed stuff brought to their houses, and restaurants needed to make money. And so it definitely accelerated [use]. And I’m hoping that it doesn’t stop after the pandemic.”

Unlikely to be stable, expert says

But looking ahead, experts say gig work in Fredericton may not be able to stabilize and grow at the rate expected in larger urban centres.

“They really have to follow the demand where and when it arises, and really then, I would call that more instability than flexibility,” said associate professor of sociology Paul Glavin at McMaster University in Ontario, who is studying the gig economy and its effect on participants’ mental health. 

For the 26-year-old Foster, taking up shifts for each platform helped supplement her full-time income as a personal support worker.

“By doing the side hustle with Skip the Dishes and DoorDash and Instacart, I was able to pay off a lot of my debt, so it was a big help,” said Foster, who hopes to keep doing gig work part time once she transitions back into her day job.

“Now that I’m taking a break from home care, it’s helping cover bills on its own.”

Gig worker sees continuing need

With New Brunswick now in Phase 2 of its so-called path to green, Foster hopes customers and workers will continue to use the apps. She said the services fill gaps, especially for people in rural areas or with mobility issues and in need of help with groceries.

“I find with Instacart, that one has been really helpful for the seniors. I know a lot of the regular seniors that I shop for, and they really enjoy having us bring [groceries] to them.”

Although gig work has become more common, New Brunswick does not have any information that tracks who participates in the gig economy.

Moving out of the pandemic, the biggest challenge for researchers and government is finding ways to track this fluid labour market, said Glavin.

“It’s very easy to identify a full-time worker with a single employer, but when people are loosely attached to gig work, that makes it challenging.”

Paul Glavin is part of a team of researchers working on the Canadian quality of work and economic life study. His most recent research found gig workers largely report more autonomy in their job, but they also tend to report greater stresses that contribute to poor mental health. (Paul Glavin)

Although Garinis believes app-based work will become more commonplace, he said he’s planning on a gradual transition back into traditional full-time work.

“It’s already been slower this summer than it was last summer, where I could average out, like, $20 when the pandemic really was starting. It’s not been good — I am prepared to get another job.”

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Workers

Uber, Lyft drivers strike to win labor rights for US gig workers, Auto News, ET Auto

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Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.
Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.

Los Angeles: Drivers for Uber and Lyft have staged strikes in cities across the United States, urging Congress to grant gig workers the right to band together and push for better wages and working conditions.

Wednesday’s protests – from California to Maryland – reveal an increasingly fractious dispute over how gig workers should be regarded by law and what rights they deserve at work.

The question is under debate in Congress as lawmakers wrangle over whether the self-employed can bargain collectively as part of a wider Protect the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act).

“We want a seat at the table,” said driver Alvaro Bolainez, part of a 50-strong protest at Los Angeles airport.

Bolainez urged his fellow drivers to turn off their apps and lay down their keys, saying his pay was consistently and unilaterally cut by the rich ride-sharing companies he serves.

“It’s like a rollercoaster – one week I can make $1,000, the next I’ll make $400 working the same number of hours,” he said.

A spokesperson for Lyft said in an emailed statement that the company is “fighting to expand benefits and protections for drivers in a way that allows them to keep their independence. This is the type of forward-looking approach our drivers want.”

Uber referred questions to the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Coalition, a pro-industry group, which said most driver earnings were on the rise in California.

It also sent remarks from drivers who oppose the strike.

“I treat it like it’s a business and I drive smart,” said 65-year-old Jim Pyatt, a part-time driver in California. “I never make less than $35 an hour and I love the flexibility.”

But at the L.A. rally, drivers told a very different story – recalling days when earnings lagged the minimum wage, of idling roadside for hours or paying out of pocket for vehicle repairs.

Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.

A Reuters calculation found the 2020 measure had saved Uber and Lyft $392 million each in costs such as payroll taxes and worker compensation.

“It created a second-class status for all app-based workers in California,” said Nicole Moore, a rally organizer who urged the Senate to pass the PRO act when it votes on a multi-trillion dollar spending package under negotiation.

The law would, among other measures, reclassify many independent contractors as employees for the purpose of collective bargaining, though not for wage laws and benefits.

Veena Dubal, an employment law professor and critic of gig company practice, said with debate fomenting over worker rights, the West Coast was a microcosm of a far bigger problem.

“Although the action is centered in California, it’s really workers over the country participating because they know California is the epicenter of the business model, but the companies are trying to export it elsewhere,” she said.

In recent months, gig firms have courted unions and state officials in an effort to cement their workers’ status as independent contractors in all U.S. states so as to cut costs.

Read more:

Under the proposal outlined in a regulatory filing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the penalty would be reduced to $150,000, but Uber would pay $9 million to support a state victims’ fund and help create industry-wide safety and reporting standards.



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Gig workers rally in Fresno in support of Right to Organize Act

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FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Rallies were held across California earlier this week in support of the Right to Organize Act that is currently stalled in the State Legislature.

One of the demonstrations was held in downtown Fresno at city hall Wednesday afternoon.

A nationwide strike is underway among rideshare, and delivery drivers, including DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Organizers said they’re pushing for the right to organize and form a union to gain more benefits.

Proposition 22 was passed in November of last year, which made rideshare drivers and other gig-workers independent contractors.

However, rally participants said that’s not exactly how it works.

“Independent contractors don’t get treated like second-class workers. They’re not independent contractors if they don’t have the right to negotiate the terms of their contract,” said volunteer organizer Hashid Kasama.

A spokesperson for the Protect App-based Drivers and Services Coalition said that since Prop 22 passed Uber Driver’s earnings are up in California’s two largest markets.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.



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Micromax Next Product, In 2B Will Be Aimed at Gig Workers

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Micromax IN 2B

It seems that Micromax is gearing up to launch a new handset in India, as is evident by a teaser released by the company on Twitter, that reveals the launch date of July 30 for the same.

Going by the teaser released by Micromax, the upcoming handset will offer smooth performance, long battery life with the focus group being Gig workers. The teaser does not reveal the name of the handset, but we can expect it to be released as the Micromax IN 2B in India, as the device was spotted on Geekbench in June.

What do We Know About the Micromax In 2B,2C?

At that time, the benchmark listing had revealed the main specifications of the device ahead of the launch. This device will be succeeding the Micromax In 1B smartphone.

According to a report by The Mobile Indian earlier this week, Micromax seems to be planning to launch the Micromax In 2B in India by the end of July.

Now, the teaser of the arrival of the new handset on July 30th has further provided us with solidified proof of a new offering from the company. As mentioned earlier, the Micromax 1N 2B visited Geekbench last month. Benchmark details wise, the Micromax In 2B will come with a Unisoc T610 octa-core SoC. The device is also expected to opt for 4GB of RAM. Software-wise it should run Android 11 out of the box.

The Geekbench test revealed that the Micromax In 2B managed to score 350 points in the single-core test and 1204 points in the multicore test. To recall, the Micromax 1N 1B was launched by Micromax earlier in 2020 in November. The device opted for a 6.52-inch IPS LCD display with HD+ resolution and a 20:9 aspect ratio.

Performance-wise the handset was powered by the octa-core Helio G35 SoC. Optics wise the 1N 1B used a dual-camera setup with a 13MP primary sensor and a 2MP secondary camera. The phone used a massive 5000mAh battery with 10W charging.

The report also mentions that the company could release the Micromax In 2C in India next month, with a Geekbench listing confirming the same. The listing revealed that the In 2C could ship with an Unisoc T610 processor with 4GB of RAM. The phone could run Android 11 out of the box.



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