Online food delivery apps and ride-hailing groups were bracing for a wave of driver and driver strikes in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom on Wednesday, amid a dispute over wages at a time when companies are under pressure from investors to lobby. higher profits.
Thousands of Uber, Lyft and DoorDash couriers in cities across North America are expected to refuse to take orders on Valentine’s Day, traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year for ride-hailing apps. delivery. Some drivers said they also planned to protest outside airports in Florida, New Jersey and Texas, as well as demonstrate outside Uber headquarters in San Francisco.
Similarly, thousands of UK couriers for food delivery apps Deliveroo, Just Eat Takeaway, Uber Eats and Stuart plan to strike on the same day, aiming to cause maximum disruption to businesses.
The gig workers’ actions are not centrally coordinated, but have been spread on social media and by word of mouth, with support from a number of labor rights groups.
The common complaint across countries is low wages at a time of cost of living crisis, at a time when groups such as Uber and Deliveroo are under pressure from investors to demonstrate consistent profits. Meanwhile, labor rights advocates are calling for greater transparency on how fares are split between drivers and apps.
Delivery Job UK, a short-lived collective organizing the British strike, said low pay and daily hazards create “an environment of uncertainty and poverty”.
“People are fed up with this. It gets worse as the years go by,” said Jonathan Cruz of Miami, an Uber driver for about seven years. “The gap is widening between what the customer pays and what the driver receives. . . It’s hard to survive right now.
In the United States, Gridwise Analytics found that average monthly gross earnings for Uber drivers in 2023 fell 17% and earnings for DoorDash drivers fell 0.1%, although earnings for Lyft drivers increased by 2.5% compared to the previous year.
Based on the aggregation of its user data, Rodeo, an app used by UK delivery drivers to track and analyze revenue, estimated that the average payment per order on Just Eat had fallen by 9 per cent to £5.59 and had fallen by 2 percent on Uber Eats to £4.21 in 2023, compared to 2022.
The pay cuts for drivers come as companies seek to show investors they can consistently turn a profit, after years of heavy losses in a battle for market share.
Uber reported its first annual operating profit last week, with analysts predicting the company could announce a stock buyback at an investor day on Wednesday.
Pre-tax losses for Just Eat and Deliveroo narrowed to €317m and £57.6m respectively in the first six months of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.
The gig economy is subject to increasing regulation on both sides of the Atlantic. New York imposed a new minimum wage law for gig workers last year, while European Parliament and Council negotiators last week reached a provisional agreement on a directive to improve their working conditions. work.
However, the UK Supreme Court ruled in November that Deliveroo delivery workers cannot be recognized as being in an “employment relationship” or be represented by unions in collective bargaining.
This did not prevent the runners from organizing themselves in a less formal way. Earlier this month, thousands of riders took part in an impromptu strike in UK cities including London, Brighton and Liverpool, also instigated by Delivery Job UK..
Rodeo estimates there was a 50% drop in orders on Uber Eats in London during the five-hour strike, costing Uber and Deliveroo around £1 million each.
“Drivers across the US are fighting for fair wages, safety and more this Valentine’s Day,” said Justice for App Workers, a US-based campaign group.
All the companies targeted by the strikes claim to have good relations with the vast majority of users.
Lyft said it is “constantly working to improve the driver experience” and announced this month that drivers will “always pay at least 70% of the rider’s weekly rate after external fees.” Uber said: “More drivers and couriers are choosing to make money on Uber than ever before. » DoorDash declined to comment.
Deliveroo said it aimed to “give riders the flexible working that riders tell us they value, earning opportunities and attractive protections”. Delivery company Stuart said it remained “committed to providing competitive revenue opportunities for courier partners”.
Just Eat said it took passengers’ concerns “extremely seriously”, adding that they earned “on average, significantly above the London and national living wage for the duration of their order”. The national living wage in the UK, for people aged 23 and over, is currently £10.42 an hour.
Alfie Pearce-Higgins, co-founder of Rodeo, said the lack of transparency around wages was a “serious failing” of the gig economy and one of the model’s “biggest weaknesses”.
He added: “Many drivers want to be flexible and independent. . . but this independence only really works if there is a competitive and transparent market and we believe that this is lacking.