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Huffington Post Canada
Canadian Labour Reporter
Toronto – June 26, 2019 – Amidst a major unionization drive that has seen hundreds of Uber drivers in Toronto join UFCW Canada, Uber drivers and their union held a media conference Wednesday at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in downtown Toronto to discuss the challenges that drivers are facing, and the redress that they and their union are seeking from Uber.
At the conference, drivers spoke about the host of issues that make driving for Uber a low-paying, unfair, and at times unsafe job. For example, Uber drivers do not get paid sick days, vacation days, or extended health coverage, and must cover their own fuel and repair costs. They also have no access to workers compensation if they are injured at work, and when operating costs and hours of work are accounted for, often make below minimum wage.
“Uber calls us partners, but we have absolutely no say about our working conditions, or even being able to take a bathroom break,” Ejaz Butt, an Uber driver who helped start the union drive, told reporters at the conference. “We know we make a lot of money for Uber, but in return we get treated like we don’t matter,” he added.
Butt was joined by other Uber drivers who are seeking fair pay and respect from their employer, and who have chosen UFCW Canada as their voice at work.
“Companies like Uber, who can hire and fire drivers and fully dictate the terms of employment, should be held accountable for the well-being of their employees,” said Paul Meinema, the National President of UFCW Canada. “Uber is the employer. The drivers are employees. The technology is just a management tool and the company should adhere to our labour laws,” the UFCW Canada leader remarked.
“By joining UFCW, Uber drivers are now in alliance with a quarter of a million workers across Canada,” said Pablo Godoy, National Co-ordinator of Gig and Platform-Employer Initiatives at UFCW Canada. “Our union has decades of experience organizing workers to achieve respect, dignity, and fairness at work, and that is exactly what we will be asking of Uber.”
In addition to issues surrounding pay, benefits, and health and safety, drivers have also expressed concerns about harassment from customers and unfair rating systems that can lead to drivers being removed from the Uber platform through no fault of their own.
In response to these concerns, UFCW Canada has launched a major campaign that empowers Uber drivers to join the union, and has also created a website – called Uber Drivers United – where drivers can contact the union and join the movement to achieve fairness at Uber. The website also details ways that Uber customers and concerned citizens can help support Uber drivers in their campaign for fair pay, respect, and a voice on the job. To learn more about this ground-breaking campaign, visit the Uber Drivers United website.