Unions call out Uber’s ‘hardball politics’

Labour groups say company is pressuring governments to ‘invent niche category of app-based employment’

Unions call out Uber’s ‘hardball politics’
Thirteen labour groups from across Canada have come together to demand full rights and protections for gig economy workers.

Thirteen labour groups from across Canada have come together to demand full rights and protections for gig economy workers.

The groups are calling on the provincial, territorial and federal governments to protect gig and app-based workers by:

  • applying employment standards universally and eliminating exceptions and special categories that restrict worker rights
  • proactively addressing the misclassification of workers as independent contractors and reversing the legal onus so employers must prove a worker is not an employee and is truly an independent contractor
  • ensuring all workers have the right to organize into a union should they choose and making that right meaningful by addressing barriers to organizing

The moves comes after Uber Canada urged provincial governments to set up an alternative set of regulations to govern gig workers and offer them "self-directed benefits" and "enhanced worker protections.”

“The plan, rolled out over the past few weeks, signals the [company’s] intention to pressure governments to invent a niche category for app-based employment. Like Proposition 22 in California, Uber now wants to enshrine insecurity and inferior work conditions into Canadian legislation while undermining the right of workers to organize,” said the labour groups, which include the Canadian Labour Congress.

“The Canadian labour movement stands united with the growing global movement demanding full rights and protections for gig economy workers.”

In February 2020, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) released a decision stating Foodora couriers were dependent contractors and must be treated as such by their employer.

Uber generates controversy

Uber’s latest announcement offers a false choice between flexibility and a living wage, says Brice Sopher a delivery courier.

“This is nothing more than a Prop 22 North – to prevent Canadian gig workers from organizing, and to allow Uber to avoid confronting the real problems of dwindling pay and precarity.”

Proposition 22 was on California state ballots last year and passed, say Gig Workers United. It essentially exempts app-based employers from an earlier law that gave app-based workers employee status and benefits.

In October, Uber caused controversy in Canada after asking drivers to sign a contract stating they could not take part in a $400-million lawsuit seeking to recognize them as employees rather than independent contractors.

Last year, Canada’s top court found an Uber clause requiring arbitration overseas was impractical and unfair to Canadian workers.

Latest stories