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Uber Eats enlists Winnipeg drivers ahead of launch next week

Off-shoot of the global ride-hailing company ready for battle with Winnipeg-based SkipTheDishes

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/8/2018 (771 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Prospective Uber Eats drivers got a taste of what the food delivery service job is like at a sign up session Tuesday: they waited in line.

If hired on by the restaurant food delivery service, they won't have to wait in line to fill out paperwork though. They'll be waiting for orders of pizza and sushi at Winnipeg restaurants on the job instead.

There was a steady flow of traffic of Winnipeggers interested in becoming "delivery partners" for Uber Eats -- the food delivery off-shoot of global ride-hailing brand Uber -- at the Millennium Library Tuesday, the first day of the company's driver sign up event taking place Aug. 14 and 15.

Uber Eats offers its food delivery service in 20 Canadian cities to date, from Vancouver to St. John’s. The U.S. company said it will launch its services in about a dozen new cities in Canada this month and will be active in 100 Canadian cities and towns by the end of the year, including Winnipeg.

Uber Eats hosted a sign-up event at the Millennium Library in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Uber Eats hosted a sign-up event at the Millennium Library in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Terry Szydlik, 45, was one of a handful of applicants who went to the library Tuesday afternoon to speak to Uber Eats representatives about becoming a driver in Winnipeg.

"Most of the guys and gals who do this, it's just about the extra money; it's not a career. You just want to work a couple hours and make some extra money," he said Tuesday.

Szydlik has worked in the food delivery business for 10 years. This fall will mark one year since he started working as a courier for Uber Eats competitor SkipTheDishes. He said he figured he should give Uber Eats a try to see which job is the most profitable.

Uber Eats hosts a sign-up event at the Millennium Library in Winnipeg on Tuesday,
Winnipeg Free Press 2018.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Uber Eats hosts a sign-up event at the Millennium Library in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Winnipeg Free Press 2018.

A spokesperson for SkipTheDishes said Tuesday the company welcomes new competition and understands "the appeal of the Winnipeg market," where its headquarters employs more than 1,800 employees.

While Szydlik normally makes a predictable $65 to $80 per shift with SkipTheDishes -- what adds up to about $16 an hour -- he said the job can be frustrating when it's a slow day for orders because he has to schedule and set aside three to five hour blocks of time for courier shifts; he can't just clock in and clock out as he pleases.

"With Uber Eats, there's no schedule at all. You just click a button, you're working. If it's slow, you click a button, you're not working. An hour later, you feel like working again, you can start up again," he said.

While Uber Eats hires "delivery partners," Winnipeg-based SkipTheDishes hires "couriers." Both titles are synonymous with independent contractors, meaning the workers don't get any employee benefits, minimum wage, vacation days or overtime.

The 45-year-old said he doesn't mind being an independent contractor. He said he'll start working both jobs once Uber Eats launches next week; then he'll have to decide whether he wants to choose one or continue doing both.

Vincente Torrefranca, a 40-year-old who works at SkipTheDishes full-time, said he too is going to test out Uber Eats to see how it compares to his other delivery gig.

"When I started Skip, I really liked the job, so I quit my other job because I like driving," he said, adding that being a courier allows him the flexibility he needs as a busy father and husband.

People new to the gig economy scene in Winnipeg also came out to the sign-up event, citing Uber's good reputation or their previous experience driving with Uber elsewhere as the reason they wanted to get involved with the company here.

Uber Eats first launched Canadian services in Toronto in 2015; now there are more than 8,000 restaurants on the platform.

East India Company Pub & Eatery, Jeffrey's Restaurant and Saucers Cafe have already signed up on the service in the city.

Saucers Cafe, a popular lunch spot on Academy Street, was one of the first clients to sign up with SkipTheDishes in 2014.

Co-owner Stuart Deacon said the restaurant will still use SkipTheDishes services -- alongside Uber Eats -- for now, but he's looking forward to testing out the new service since "SkipTheDishes is a hard company to work with."

Uber Eats will charge Saucers Cafe 25 per cent of every order made through their app or website, he said. SkipTheDishes charges about 23 per cent of every order upfront, he said, but with all the additional fees, Deacon said it's more like 28 per cent.

SkipTheDishes charges restaurants for every minute a delivery driver has to wait if the food isn't ready on time. The company also charges restaurants if they want to change their menu options on the platform, Deacon said, adding that Uber Eats doesn't charge restaurants for either.

"I'm always looking for the next shiny thing and (Uber Eats) has a really good formula," he said.

maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh
Reporter

Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at 10:23 PM CDT: Fixes references to income taxes for drivers

10:48 PM: General edits

August 15, 2018 at 9:48 AM: Clarifies Skip the Dishes has a total of 600 restaurant partners in Winnipeg and more than 12,000 overall.

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