The United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Local 1518 is waiting for a decision from the Labour Relations Board of British Columbia on its application to classify drivers using the Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. apps as employees.
Currently, drivers in other Canadian jurisdictions are classified as independent contractors, which means they aren’t covered by the province’s Employment Standards Act.
While the two ride-sharing companies aren’t yet operating in B.C., the union is making its push to have drivers designated as employees in anticipation of the apps launching their services in the province, which is expected in a matter of weeks.
Under the ESA, employees in the province must be paid minimum wage and are entitled to vacation days, or payment in lieu of vacation.
The union is also concerned about wording in the agreements ride-share drivers must make in order to operate using the app. “We have reviewed the terms of Lyft and Uber’s agreements and in our assessment they are in violation of B.C. labour laws,” said Kim Novak, president of the UFCW 1518, in a press release. “They are asking drivers in B.C. to sign contracts that require them not to engage in collective actions. This is completely unacceptable. Many jurisdictions have scrambled to protect workers after the fact. We want to make sure that workers are protected before ride-hailing services launch.”
Hundreds of Uber drivers joined the UFCW in Ontario earlier this year.
“Rather than comply with the law, these ride-hailing companies ignore it and that is completely unacceptable here in B.C., Ontario or any jurisdiction,” says Pablo Godoy, UFCW Canada’s national director of gig and platform employer initiatives. “Ride-hailing drivers are employees who deserve the same rights and protections as all workers — including the right to unionize and bargain collectively.”
Uber and Lyft were unable to respond to Benefits Canada‘s request for comment by the time of publication.