NUPGE denounces Foodora closure in solidarity with CUPW

NUPGE joins CUPW in calling on Foodora and the federal government to ensure that workers and food couriers be protected.

Ottawa (06 May 2020) ― The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is denouncing Foodora for closing shop in Canada, in what is widely seen as an outrageous reaction to a union drive by its workers.

App-based food delivery company operated in 10 Canadian cities

The app-based food delivery company Foodora, the subsidiary of Berlin-based Delivery Hero SE, is closing its Canadian operations in May, just months after a key labour board decision laid the groundwork for the company's workers to join the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). Foodora has operated in 10 Canadian cities over the last 5 years and has 3,000 restaurants.

Foodora workers voted to unionize in August 2019, historic victory with OLRB in February 2020

The couriers are fighting for better health and safety protections, fair compensation for they work they perform, and for the right to join a union. A vote in August 2019 was held asking workers to join CUPW, but the results were sealed pending challenges over the employment status of the couriers and whether they were eligible to unionize.

On February 25, 2020, the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled that Foodora couriers are dependent contractors, clearing a hurdle towards unionization and setting a major precedent for other workers in the gig economy.

The historic ruling set an important precedent for all gig workers. Designating the couriers as dependent contractors gives them the right to organize and certify as a union, and opens the way for other gig workers to follow,

In its ruling, the labour board decided the couriers more closely resemble employees rather than independent contractors in what it said was its first decision with respect to the so-called gig economy.

Explanation is sheer nonsense

According to a recent news report Foodora said that it has not been able to reach a level of profitability in Canada that's sustainable enough to continue operations, so it filed a notice of intention and will exit the country on May 11.

"This explanation is sheer nonsense," said Larry Brown, President of NUPGE. "Everybody knows that Foodora is making money hand over fist during this pandemic, and couriers are the ones doing all the work here: they've been very busy dealing with surges in orders amid COVID-19, and they have been struggling with new policies around no-contact delivery. To suggest that Foodora is not profitable is ridiculous, and no one is fooled."

Same dangerous work as postal workers

Like postal workers, Foodora couriers perform dangerous work, navigating busy streets in all weather conditions. Their injury rates are high too. With little in the way of protection, an accident can leave them devastated, unable to work, and without adequate compensation to make ends meet.

“This is outrageous corporate behavior” said Larry Brown. “Hundreds of workers have just been let go in the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years, with no Record of Employment, and unclear access to benefits. This despite the fact that Foodora’s couriers have made millions for this company." Brown added: "These workers deserve better. They deserve to be treated with fairness and dignity.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE