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OPINIONTechnology

Signs That the Gig Economy Is Over

Independent delivery workers organize in Europe and Asia

The Lempert Report

Apps including Uber Eats, Deliveroo, DoorDash, Instacart, Foodora and others have been blamed for cheating workers on tips, refusing to compensate workers for injuries, lowering pay rates, increasing driving distances and refusing to recognize workers as employees as a way of circumventing the costs of benefits. Some places, like here in California, are trying to change that. 

In the meantime these workers are not just sitting by.  They have been busy organizing unions. Foodora delivery workers in Norway and Uber Eats couriers in Japan have succeeded in forming the first unions at major global food delivery platform companies and, with them, new rights and benefits on the job.

Why the fight? Many gig workers like the schedule flexibility and the work so they are willing to fight to keep those jobs.

Uber Eats couriers in Japan formed the global food delivery platform’s first union on Oct. 3. The union aims to fight for “safer and more stable working conditions for all platform workers,” its chairman said at a press conference. There are an estimated 15,000 Uber Eats couriers across 10 cities in Japan—none of whom receive worker’s compensation or unemployment insurance because of their status as contractors. 

Uber said that it would implement an injury compensation program for its Japanese workers beginning Oct. 1. The company said it would pay up to $93,000 in the case of death.  

After a five-week strike in Norway, delivery couriers on the app Foodora, a food delivery platform that operates throughout Europe, Canada and the Philippines, succeeded in reaching the first collective bargaining agreement between a global delivery platform and a trade union. That contract guarantees compensation for equipment used on the job, including bikes, clothes and smartphones (typically paid for out of pocket by workers) and an annual pay increase of about $1,647 for full-time workers.  

Expect the same to happen here in the U.S., with dramatic repercussions to companies such as Instacart and Uber Eats.

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