In these scary, lonely times, there is much more demand than usual for delivery, be it groceries, food cooked to order, or household items. Now, in a move apparently designed to help his drivers “find new ways to earn,” Uber asks them to provide food for his courier service, Uber Eats.
In a blog Uber Eats chief Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, published on his site this week, has announced that drivers in more than a dozen cities in the US have been given the option to switch between delivery and pick-up and drop-off in the app, even in the event that they have never ridden for Uber Eats in the past. This is seen as an opportunity for drivers to make more money, but what is more obvious is that Uber does what is best for Uber’s profit – not necessarily that of its drivers.
“While it is too early to say what impact the coronavirus crisis will have on food delivery in general, we see signs that people are relying more on delivery services,” the blog said. “The impact varies widely from city to city and country to country, but cities like Seattle and San Francisco have seen an increase in requests for food delivery from Uber Eats recently. In the United States and Canada, we have also seen a significant increase given the number of restaurants willing to offer delivery, as dining is limited, including a tenfold increase in self-registrations. “
Both cities mentioned here – San Francisco and Seattle – are hotspots for the spread of Covid-19 disease, requiring people to shelter at home and isolate themselves when sick. And as the company noted, Uber has seen a spike in the use of its delivery service in these areas. Citing a source familiar with the matter, the information reported This week, Uber Eats sales increased 10 percent from the previous week in what the site described as “unprecedented” for this time of year.
“This is an uncertain time for all of us, and the normal course of events looks very different from a few weeks ago,” an Uber spokeswoman told the Information in a statement. “We are focused on being there for restaurants, delivery drivers and their customers to provide a safe and reliable marketplace now and in the long term.”
Of course, job opportunities for drivers who may not earn as much as usual will be paramount in the coming months as the U.S. is struggling with the economic consequences of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. But the company that asks drivers to make deliveries isn’t the altruistic gesture Uber makes.
More human-to-human contact – whether it’s picking up food from a restaurant employee, buying food from a grocery store, or delivering an order to an Uber Eats customer – puts that individual at greater risk of exposure . Touching surfaces such as door handles every time a person enters or leaves an establishment also endangers them, and couriers may not have the necessary access to hand sanitizer or soap and water they need to protect themselves or others. In his blog post, Uber said that “the safety and wellbeing of everyone using Uber is our priority,” but the company is not taking the necessary precautions to protect its drivers and reduce the spread of the disease to the community.
According to a report by Reuters This week, a driver from Postmates and Uber in Texas who started experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 after driving a sick person to a test for the disease was denied visiting a hospital about his condition – and indeed, access to tests is a of the biggest challenges the US is facing as the disease continues to spread. But in order to receive sick pay from Uber – as with other gigs or contract work – he had to be tested positive or quarantined by a health agency.
In what he described for Reuters as “an impossible situation,” the driver continued to work for Postmates to avoid eviction from a motel where he was staying. The man told Reuters that he was “trying to get tested and I was trying to get financial help,” but Uber eventually needed the documentation. After reporting the symptoms to the company, he says Uber closed his account. According to Reuters, he currently lives in his car. Uber did not immediately return a request for comment on the incident.
When asked about the decision to encourage drivers to take a job that would increase their human-to-human contact, potentially putting them at greater risk of exposure to Covid-19, the company said dropping the door encouraged. off, “working” to disinfect drivers and encourage products to tip their couriers – putting the offering of good earnings for greater earnings directly on customers’ shoulders.
“Safety is essential to Uber and is at the heart of everything we do,” Gizmodo said in a statement. “In response to the continued spread of the coronavirus, we reminded Uber Eats users that they can have door-to-door delivery by selecting ‘leave at the door’ during checkout. We hope this will be helpful to everyone on the platform to be. “
Uber did not respond to Gizmodo’s question about whether couriers will be offered a higher base wage during this period, even if the demand for the service increases and the personal risk is given to drivers performing the work. It also did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether it will offer sickness benefit to workers with symptoms of Covid-19 who may not have access to a test, given the limited supply.
This week it was reported that an Uber driver in Queens died after stopping driving to avoid getting covid-19. His cousin told it New York Post that the man had stopped driving after picking up a patient from JFK airport and transporting him to Westchester County. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told the Post in a statement that he was “deeply saddened by this news.”
But at least this incident proves once again that Uber’s claim that safety is “at the core of everything we do” is nonsense. This says nothing about its refusal classify its drivers as employees or be asshole in response to contractors trying to get unemployed. Uber doesn’t get the impression that he’s the nice guy looking for his own profitability over the health and safety of his workforce.