Thousands of drivers for ride hailing services and food delivery riders in the United States and United Kingdom are planning to strike on Valentine’s Day in disputes over pay and working conditions.
In America, campaign group Justice for App Workers said in a blog post last week that drivers for Uber and Lyft, as well as riders for DoorDash, were “sick of working 80 hours/week just to make ends meet.”
The group, which says it represents 130,000 drivers and delivery workers across the East Coast and Midwest, wrote that its members planned to stop giving rides to and from all airports in 10 cities, including Chicago and Miami, for two hours on Wednesday.
“Join Justice for App Workers from 11am-1pm on Wednesday, February 14, as we demand changes from Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and all the app companies profiting off of our hard work!” the campaign group added, without providing details on strike action by DoorDash workers.
Meanwhile, in the UK, a spokesperson for campaign group Delivery Job UK said more than 3,000 food delivery riders were expected to strike for five hours on Wednesday.
Riders participating in the strike are primarily Portuguese-speaking and work across multiple platforms, including Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat. Riders have seen their income drop in recent years as the companies have cut the delivery fees they charge customers, the spokesperson said.
“Our request is simple: We want fair compensation for the work we do. We are tired of being exploited,” the UK group said in an Instagram post Sunday.
“Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, but it should not overshadow our struggle,” it added.
A spokesperson for Uber Eats said the company offered riders flexibility to earn money “when and where they choose.”
“We know that the vast majority of couriers are satisfied with their experience on the app, and we regularly engage with couriers to look at how we can improve their experience,” the spokesperson added.
A spokesperson for Deliveroo also said the “overwhelming majority” of its riders were satisfied working for the company, and it offered riders insurance and sickness cover among other benefits. “We value dialogue with riders, which is why we have a voluntary partnership agreement with a trade union, which includes annual discussions on pay.”
A spokesperson for Just Eat said it took its riders’ concerns “extremely seriously.”
“Our data shows that couriers delivering for Just Eat earn, on average, significantly over both the London and national living wage for the time they are on an order,” the spokesperson noted.
A spokesperson for Lyft said the company was “constantly working to improve the driver experience” and had recently introduced a minimum weekly earnings guarantee to ensure drivers would always take home at least 70% of rider fares after external fees.
DoorDash did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
For years, workers in the gig economy, who typically work for digital platforms as contractors and so have fewer protections than they would as employees, have agitated for better pay and working conditions, with some success.
In 2021, Uber recognized a labor union for the first time. The company said GMB, one of Britain’s largest unions, was now able to represent up to 70,000 Uber drivers across the country.