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Ride-share drivers planning Valentine’s Day strike as part of fight for more pay

Drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft are planning to strike on Valentine's Day, which could impact many couple's celebration plans.

People across North America may need to find alternate travel plans for their Valentine’s Day date with ride-share drivers set to strike as part of a fight for more pay.

Many ride-hailing and food delivery drivers are planning the one-day strike alongside American and European counterparts to protest their low wages.

The temporary job action comes in the wake of a new report from advocacy groups that suggests Uber drivers in some Canadian cities make around $10 below minimum wage.

“Both provincial and city governments have a role in preventing these abuses,” says Ridefair Toronto, in a post on X, calling attention to the strike that aims to protest “poverty pay and company practices.”

The latest report from Ridefair Toronto and the Rideshare Drivers Association of Ontario (RDAO), titled “Legislated Poverty,” claims drivers make around $6.37 an hour after expenses, far lower than Uber’s claim that drivers take home $33.35 per engaged hour.

“Minimum wage laws exist to protect everyone, no matter who you are, what kind of work you do, or whether you work full-time, part-time or casually,” says Earla Phillips, Vice President of the Rideshare Drivers Association of Ontario. “We are letting gig workers fall through the cracks.”

The groups say researchers examined 96 weekly paystubs from Toronto drivers, claiming all of them failed to meet Ontario’s minimum wage standards.

“In many cases, drivers lost money,” says JJ Fueser, a researcher with Ridefair Toronto and the report’s co-author.

Uber drivers and couriers are considered by the company to be independent contractors because they can choose when, where and how often they work, but in exchange, they have no job security, vacation pay or other benefits. 

Uber Canada announced a number of changes last month, aimed at offering drivers more transparency about their earnings and better protection when they’re on the road. The changes came from feedback the company collected through an agreement with private sector union United Food and Commercial Workers Canada. 

Brice Sopher, vice-president of Canadian couriers and drivers group Gig Workers United, called the changes “window dressing,” meant to detract from how difficult it has become for people to make money on the platform.

The Valentine’s Day strike is expected in Vancouver, Toronto, and Winnipeg, as well as dozens of cities across the U.S. and Europe, with drivers who work for Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash participating.

With files from The Canadian Press

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