Couriers fed up with paltry pay amid soaring fuel prices took to the streets Friday to demand better wages from the country’s three major online food delivery services.

Couriers fed up with paltry pay amid soaring fuel prices took to the streets Friday to demand better wages from the country’s three major online food delivery services.

"We ask companies to please think of their drivers. Our cars do not run on water," said Manpreet Gill, a Skip the Dishes driver who joined about 20 of his colleagues for an informal strike next to the McDonald’s on Regent Avenue West.

Organizers said drivers from Skip The Dishes, Uber Eats and DoorDash have refused to accept delivery jobs to protest against wages many argue are unsustainable.

"We don’t want the customers to suffer but this has gone too far and we hope they understand that we will be back once this problem is resolved," Gill said. "We have mortgages to pay and families to feed."

As many as 500 Winnipeg couriers have expressed support for the strike, which was scheduled to continue Saturday, organizers said.

Drivers are expected to move their picket line to public property adjacent to restaurants across the city. Couriers for the three companies are not unionized.

With the price of gas over $2 a litre in Winnipeg, Gill said the $7 Skip the Dishes couriers make on a delivery no longer covers their expenses. On average, drivers spend between $35 and $40 on gas for a typical shift, compared to the $20 a day they used to spend.

Skip the Dishes driver Kuldeep Dhillon said drivers have raised their concerns with Skip on multiple occasions but have repeatedly been told their compensation is fair.

In an email sent to Skip the Dishes, drivers asked the company to increase its delivery commission by $2 in recognition of the increased cost of fuel. Similar demands have been made to Uber Eats and DoorDash, he said.

<p>BRYCE HUNT / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Protesters hold signs on a Regent Avenue sidewalk to strike against food delivery services. The drivers are requesting a pay raise from $7 to $9 per delivery.</p>

BRYCE HUNT / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Protesters hold signs on a Regent Avenue sidewalk to strike against food delivery services. The drivers are requesting a pay raise from $7 to $9 per delivery.

Dhillon said he and his colleagues will lose future earning potential for participating in the demonstration. By refusing jobs, their acceptance rates will decline, he said. Acceptance rates are factored in when couriers are offered a delivery.

"Even during the pandemic when gas was cheaper, Skip gave us the same wage. We demand at least $9," he said.

In a statement to the Free Press, Hannah Korsunsky, senior communications manager with Skip The Dishes, said the company is committed to doing "everything we can to support our couriers as gas prices continue to rise across the city."

"We understand the impacts of increased gas prices on couriers, and are actively pursuing solutions that target the most immediate needs expressed by couriers, including actively implementing a program with a third-party that offers discounts on fuel, and creating an open dialogue to hear concerns and provide ongoing support during this time."

Skip The Dishes has not introduced a fuel surcharge, and fees are the lowest among competitors, the statement said.

As of Friday afternoon, the company had not reported service disruptions.

A spokesperson for DoorDash said it launched a gas rewards program in March for drivers and has extended the program based on driver feedback.

According to Uber, a temporary fuel surcharge equivalent to 35 cents for each UberEats delivery was introduced in March, with the added fee going directly to drivers.

Gill said delivery companies have profited from the pandemic while drivers were on the front lines. Their labour and expense need to be recognized, he said.

"Inflation has increased and so should the pay," he said.

danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

bryce.hunt@freepress.mb.ca

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva
Reporter

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.