Uber trying to please drivers
The Canadian Press - Jan 26, 2024 - Business Buzz

Photo: The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Uber Canada is making several changes aimed at offering drivers and couriers more transparency about their earnings and better protection when they’re on the road.

The changes include a pilot rolling out later this year that will provide B.C. and Ontario drivers with more information, including the estimated fare and expected destination, before they accept a trip.

The company is also aiming to protect drivers across the country by identifying consumers who falsely report incidents or poorly rate drivers based on traits beyond their control—mechanical issues or bad passenger behaviour—and ensuring those reviews and allegations are not considered in drivers’ ratings or account deactivations.

Further measures will have drivers in a pilot program granted the choice to record video of trips using their smartphone’s front-facing camera rather than just their dash cams, and riders in another trial receive reminders through the app to buckle their seat-belts at the start of a trip.

Brice Sopher, vice-president of Canadian couriers and drivers group Gig Workers United, said those earning money through the platform have qualms about some of the measures. They consider the changes “window dressing” meant to detract from how difficult it has become for workers to make money on the platform.

Couriers like Sopher, for example, got upfront fare and destination info before drivers and noticed their earnings dropping as soon as it was rolled out.

“It’s harder than ever to earn a living wage,” he said. “A lot of workers have or are leaving this industry because they’re unable to earn enough to live.”

The changes are the product of feedback Uber collected through a January 2022 agreement with private sector union United Food and Commercial Workers Canada.

The partnership did not unionize the workers but allowed the union to provide representation to Canadian drivers and couriers if requested by the workers when facing account deactivations or other disputes with Uber.

Two years into the agreement, UFCW Canada has filed cases with Uber on behalf of 1,908 workers who have faced deactivation or other issues with their accounts.

Over that time period, the union helped 310 workers regain access to Uber’s platform and resolved 147 account-related issues, like instances when drivers thought they qualified for an incentive but didn’t or had trouble accessing the airport for trips or uploading documents to the app.

But many Uber drivers and couriers are still unaware of the agreement. A December survey the company conducted in conjunction with Pollara Strategic Insights found 52% of 2,010 drivers and couriers were aware of the agreement, without being provided additional information about the arrangement.

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