TORONTO — Foodora couriers in Toronto are preparing to vote on union certification in what could create Canada's first unionized workforce of app-based workers.
An application by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers was filed last week with the Ontario Labour Relations Board, months after a campaign was launched that addressed working conditions.
The union says couriers intend to negotiate a better compensation model, health and safety protections when workers are injured and recognition of basic rights of workers that aren't recognized by Foodora, which classifies them as independent contractors.
Voting begins on Friday and ends Tuesday.
Foodora's workers are paid $4.50 per order plus $1 per kilometre between the restaurant and delivery address, while restaurants pay the company up to about 30 per cent of the order total.
The postal workers union says it filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the labour board over what it claims are Foodora Canada's spreading of lies and misinformation to scare couriers to vote against certification.
It says Foodora has attacked the union drive by threatening the income of couriers through emails and directly messaging them on the app.
"We will not stand for this type of intimidation from the employer — we will not back down," stated Jan Simpson, CUPW National President. "Foodora couriers deserve to be treated with respect and we will negotiate better working conditions for them. Gig economy workers have been too vulnerable for too long. Their exploitation ends now."
Foodora spokeswoman Sadie Weinstein says the company has and will continue to act in "good faith" and in accordance with Ontario's labour laws.
"We greatly value our relationship with our couriers and the work they do as independent contractors," she wrote in an email. "Foodora recognizes that the decision on whether or not to unionize is an important one for our couriers, and we’ll continue to exercise our right to free speech to ensure that our couriers can make a fully informed choice."
Foodora operates in seven cities in Canada.
The United Food and Commercial Workers union is also conducting a drive to organize Uber drivers but has not yet achieved certification.