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Rideshare, delivery drivers stage protest outside B.C. labour minister’s office

Drivers with Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Skip the Dishes rallied outside the Surrey office of B.C.’s labour minister on Tuesday to protest what they say are deteriorating working conditions and wages.

Dozens of drivers gathered outside Harry Bans’ constituency office calling for improvements including a living wage, reliable work and better working standards for people in the “gig work” industry.

“Drivers are human, we are not machines,” Uber driver Kuljeet Singh told Global News.

“We need transparency, we need benefits, we need all those things which regular people living here (have).”

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The B.C. government unveiled legislation late last year to bring gig workers under the Employment Standards Act.

The legislation guarantees gig drivers 120 per cent of minimum wage during “engaged time” — that is, while carrying passengers — and compensation through WorkSafeBC. It also provides more protection for drivers being kicked off an app, and more transparency about rides before they accept the booking.

But drivers say the changes don’t go far enough. Singh said the “engaged time” provision only covers about half of their time on the road, leaving them earning nothing between fares.

“I deduct depreciation, then gas, then tax, then GST, I don’t have any benefits, I don’t have any vacation, I don’t have anything. So do you think it’s fair?”

Singh said drivers also want more transparency from rideshare companies themselves about how much the company is collecting from passengers and how much of that is actually going to drivers.

Drivers still have little or no protection from the companies they drive for if they’re deactivated over low ratings, he further argued.

In a statement, Bains said the province remains committed to working “as quickly as possible” to address concerns in the app-based economy, building on the policies unveiled last year.

“Ministry staff continues to engage with all of the groups who will be affected by the changes, including app-based workers, companies, labour organizations and others. In fact, meetings with app-based ride-hail and food-delivery workers are taking place this week,” he said.

“These new standards and protections are coming after the regulations are finalized this spring, with some time allowed for companies to implement these important changes.”

Singh, meanwhile, said drivers aren’t ruling out taking matters into their own hands.

“We will go on strike 100 per cent,” he said.  “We will shut down the whole airport area or Vancouver area.”

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