UberEats sending Toronto drivers on insanely long trips for chump change
Unemployment rates skyrocketed in Ontario when the first lockdowns arrived in early 2020, many of those who lost their jobs turning to the gig economy to support themselves through unprecedented times.
With retail and restaurant job availability slashed, rideshare and food delivery services have been a part-time solution for legions of unemployed workers in Toronto and beyond, but one gig worker is raising alarm bells over unsustainably low pay in the industry.
Earla Phillips, a rideshare and food delivery driver with Uber/UberEats, has shared a screenshot of one recent trip where a fellow driver had to travel a staggering 18.4 kilometres in a 36-minute journey across Scarborough for an add-on to an existing order.
And what did the driver earn for this long voyage? A measly, stinking, $2 on top of the roughly $5 paid out for the initial order.
Merry Christmas from Uber to our essential workers! More like Merry Fuck You! pic.twitter.com/YA8ZCfPIiN— Earla Phillips (@earlwithana) December 23, 2021
So that's seven bucks for over half an hour of labour, well below Ontario's minimum wage of $14.25 per hour. And that doesn't even factor in the cost of gas or the time spent waiting for restaurants to prepare orders.
Phillips says that this particular screenshot shows an add-on order, where "a courier who may have already accepted a low-paying order — less than 50 cents per kilometre for most jobs — gets a new order added on by Uber, increasing the time they have to spend and the distance they travel for just two dollars."
She says that "quite often, this means picking up from two different restaurants and delivering to two different customers," Uber allegedly tacking on whole new orders and giving drivers an even lower cut for their added effort.
On top of the added distance travelled, Phillips says that "sometimes couriers arrive at a restaurant only to wait as long as an hour waiting for a restaurant to get an order ready. It's not just that time spent travelling to the restaurant, but the time spent waiting for the order to be ready."
And Earla Phillips' screenshot is really nothing out of the ordinary based on similar accounts, including one trip through downtown Toronto that took 30 minutes across 6.4 kilometres of traffic. Once again, this add-on to an existing order only gave the driver a toonie.
Here’s another record low Uber Eats order in Toronto right now. This is how this company rewards workers for the holidays. Disgusting, shameful pic.twitter.com/VcaoCT0OW2— Gig Workers United (@GigWorkersUnite) December 22, 2021
There are even more examples of these screenshots, gig workers turning to social media to bring attention to their questionable working conditions.
blogTO reached out to Uber, the company stating that "a bug surfacing inaccurate fare estimates was identified last night. This bug affected the fare estimate and not the actual payout to the delivery person."
"Since identifying the issue, Uber has fixed the bug and is working to ensure that all affected delivery people receive full delivery fees for their delivery trips."
A number of trips were impacted by an error that displayed an incorrect delivery fee last night. We’ve taken steps to fix the issue and will make sure all affected delivery people have received proper delivery fees.— Uber Support (@Uber_Support) December 23, 2021
Phillips argues that this is not an isolated issue, and contrary to Uber's claims, has been ongoing for quite some time and reflects actual payouts versus pre-delivery estimates. "Delivery people have been getting these for over a year; this is not a technical glitch," says Phillips.
She states that "Uber drivers and gig workers, in general, are misclassified as independent contractors. Uber, in particular, likes to say that's because of the flexibility they offer, but that doesn't mean anything if you don't have any ability to generate an income or have rights."
With all of this distance, waiting, and low wages, Phillips says drivers are "losing money even if you drive an electric car because you take in all associated costs. All of these companies pass all responsibility, liability, and costs onto the shoulders of workers."
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