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13 Feb, 2024 19:02

Uber drivers to celebrate Valentine’s Day by going on strike

Drivers for ride-sharing apps claim they face unfair working conditions and low pay
Uber drivers to celebrate Valentine’s Day by going on strike

Thousands of US and UK drivers for so-called ‘gig economy’ platforms like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others plan to stage a mass work stoppage on Valentine’s Day on Wednesday as part of a widespread dispute over working conditions, advocacy groups have said.

Justice for App Workers, a coalition that claims to represent more than 130,000 drivers and delivery workers across the US, said last week that its members receive unfair pay and are demanding changes from “all the app companies profiting off of our hard work.”

The group added that its members will suspend operations for two hours in at least 10 major cities across the US, including Chicago, Miami and Philadelphia on Valentine’s Day – one of the busiest days of the year for the industry. It added that its workers will refuse all requests to and from airports throughout the entire day.

“Drivers are TIRED of being mistreated by the app companies,” Justice for App Workers said in a statement threatening the strike last week. “We’re sick of working 80 hours/week to make ends meet, being constantly scared for our safety, and worrying about being deactivated at the click of a button.”

The proposed demonstrations come a week after the drive-sharing app Lyft said it would guarantee a weekly income for its drivers, saying in a statement that it was “constantly working to improve the driver experience.”

Uber, meanwhile, said last week that its drivers made an average of $33 per utilized hour of work in the final quarter of last year. In 2023, the gross monthly income of Uber drivers dropped by about 17%, according to analysis provided by the rideshare assistant app Gridwise.

The methods of payment, which include an algorithmic pricing model to determine how much a customer pays, require further oversight, according to Nicole Moore of the Rideshare Drivers United union. “A year into algorithmic pricing, drivers have seen [an] incredible decrease of our pay.”

She added that “whatever calculations and algorithms they’re using, it’s absolutely useless.” 

In the UK, meanwhile, the workers’ advocacy group Delivery Job UK also said that its 3,000 members plan a five-hour strike on Valentine’s Day. “Our request is simple: We want fair compensation for the work we do. We are tired of being exploited,” the group wrote on social media on Sunday. “Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, but it should not overshadow our struggle.” 

The UK Supreme Court ruled in November that delivery drivers are designated as self-employed contractors rather than workers or employees, meaning that they are not subject to minimum wage rules. The judgment followed a long-running campaign by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, in which it sought to organize and collectively bargain on their behalf.