How Foodora couriers made history with their fight to join a union

The Big Story


By now I think most of us no problems with the GIG economy. It treats workers as disposable doesn't offer benefits or protection or anything we traditionally associate with. You know a job. It doesn't pay well enough either so a regular shift can barely make ends meet so for the workers not great for users. It's incredibly convenient. And it's not going anywhere and that means that if anything is going to change in terms of working conditions in the GIG. It's going to have to happen the same way. Those conditions have been changed for more than a century with organizing but before you can officially or at least in the eyes of the law in Canada you need to be classified as workers not as independent contractors or entrepreneurs so that is the first fight but once it's been one then the doors open and then we'll see who tries to walk through it and how the companies that drive the GIG economy. Try TO SLAM IT in their face. Jordan Heath Rawlings. This is the Big Story Sarah. Much headway is the work and wealth reporter with the Toronto Star. She also has an upcoming podcast. That is all about the fight for working conditions in the GIG economy I saw. Why don't you start because I know you've done a ton of this reporting? Just tell me a little bit about what it's like to work in the GIG delivery economy for food or or companies like that. Yeah I've learned a lot over the past year about kind of the daily routine and kind of daily reality for these workers. I mean the first thing to say is obviously often very physically demanding job done and often quite harsh and Brinkley. Dangerous Conditions Just imagine riding your bike around Toronto fifty kilometers a day in minus twenty weather. It's it's not easy so One of the major concerns of these workers as safety on the road and that partly speaks to as well the way. Our city is designed and not being Super Friendlier. Safe for cyclists. But you know. A bunch of the careers are also drivers. And there's a bunch of safety challenges that come with that as well in terms of having to sort of be tuned in this APP on your phone and driving around the city having to find parking spots that it's very challenging The second thing is that the pay is very low. I mean it's they get for food or are they. Got Four dollars and fifty cents for each delivery. And then they get a commoner a dollar per kilometer from restaurant to drop off so there's really an An incentive and an pressure to get as many orders as you can so again. That's quite demanding in that sense. In order to be financially viable. Really have to turn out those those orders. So yeah the low pay. The unpredictable pay is is Is a major feature of the job and I think. Lastly it's the sense that there's a bit of a lack of respect. I think is how the carriers would have described it for their job and For the for the people doing it. So so that's really sort of what I've learned about the everyday realities of the job. Will you mentioned briefly when you were talking about driving? But to what extent are they tied to this APP? At least according to what you've heard. Yeah so there's been hearings at the Labor board over the past six months that really revealed a lot about how these APP companies operating and obviously most companies don't have to reveal their inner workings but in this case they've sort of had to in a tribunal setting so we've sort of gotten a window into how the APPs intervene in workers kind of daily workflow infra doors case There's an algorithm that determines when you can get shifts so basically the fastest rider the best riders. The ones that you know never are late logging into the APP. And all that kind of thing they're gonNA get first priority in terms of selecting shifts. So that's one way that the APP kind of heavily bit of control. I didn't even realize that they worked in shifts. I thought it was kind of like Uber. Where you know you log in whenever you're ready for some more now that's the major difference between Food Aura. And say Uber Eats. You can just log in and start picking up orders but with Dora. There's sort of this. Extra layer so so some of the features of the way food were operates are are unique to fidora shifts has definitely one of them and then once you accept an order you sort of have the APP beeping at you and telling you whether you're on time in terms of delivering and that kind of thing so that's another way where you're sort of interaction with the APP all the time and Auras also unique because it does have a layer of human dispatchers who careers can also communicate with While they're on shift and what we kind of learned is that those dispatchers are in some ways monitoring couriers behavior which again can restrict or change their ability to log into the APP get shifts so the dispatchers issue strikes for what they see as poor performance whether it's late deliveries or whatever it is And that can in the worst circumstances actually lead to craze being deactivated from the APP and not being able to log in at all. So you've kind of hinted at a couple of times but what is unique about food or maybe explain this just Through the Lens of who is I've an Ostos. So I've also says a career with Dora and he's being at the forefront of trying to organize the union and If this group of careers successful they will be the first at based workforce in Canada to unionize and actually one of the first on the continent so it is a. It's a big deal and really the reason From speaking to an interviewing Ivan and other carriers that they're sort of trying to form a union it goes back to wages the safety and the respect on the job and really a big part of their argument is that you know food says all of these couriers are self-employed entrepreneurs. They don't have the right to form a union. They're you know they're entrepreneurs doing their own thing. The Independent contractors that we hear about all the time exactly and this is a huge pillar of the GIG economy and what Ivan and other careers basically sat at the Labor Board. Was I mean no? There's all these ways that the APP controls the way we do our job and in that sense. It sort of resembles an employer telling you you know when to work and how to work So that was One of the main thrust of what we heard at the Labor Board and recently the Labor Board essentially agreed with the carriers and said yes. This looks more like an employment relationship. So what is the difference or at least? What's the difference supposed to be between a fulltime employees or even just a part time employees and the typical independent contractor? Yes so I went. Boil it down to say that an independent contractor someone who has a lot of power and control over the way that they do their work and these stand to either profit or lose profit from the fruits of their labor so really easy to example to think of as a contractor that you hire to renovate your house your apartment you know you strike a deal with them and then they choose how they go about doing the job whether they bring in five guys to do their work for them or you know they call the plumber to come in and do something. They're really in control of of how they do that. Work and you can say hey at the end of the day. I'm not happy I'M GONNA end this contract. But you can't be like you know. I'm going to give you a performance review and discipline you for this thing that. I don't like that you did because they're not your employees so that kind of is the essence of an independent contractor And again most APP companies Classify their workers in this way. How does the term allow up companies to get more from these workers? Well I think what it does is really reduce the burden on the company as certainly a financial burden it means that the company companies are not paying into a pension plan into an inch employment insurance neither of the workers It means that the workers have no protection under provincial employment laws. It means that they don't have the right to join a union that they don't have the right to minimum wage. So you know it's really downloading a lot of the responsibility for you know your rights and protections on the job to the individual worker and removes them from the system That is set up to protect regular employees on the job. What was food or

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