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Let's discuss Uber unions

This week’s featured article

KYODO

The Japanese staff of Uber Technologies Inc.’s food delivery service Uber Eats have formed a labor union to negotiate contract terms and seek improved working conditions.

Uber and ride-hailing rival Lyft Inc. have faced criticism for not providing their contract workers, known as “platformers,” with accident insurance and other benefits enjoyed by regular workers.

“We would like to improve the working environment for Uber Eats delivery staff through negotiations,” Tomio Maeba, chairman of the union, said at a Thursday news conference in Tokyo attended by a dozen contract workers.

The union wants the company to be aware of their disadvantageous working environment and aims to secure “safer and more stable working conditions for all platform workers,” Maeba, 29, said.

The union, formed by 17 platformers, also plans to request that the Japanese unit of the U.S. company ensure fair treatment for delivery riders and review how distance-based wages are set.

There are an estimated 15,000 Uber Eats platformers in Japan. Delivery staff using bicycles and motorcycles are directed by the company to pick up food and beverages at restaurants via the Uber Eats application.

Yoshihiko Kawakami, a lawyer supporting the union, said the company should accept its request in compliance with the labor union law.

“We will sincerely address delivery partners’ needs while always seeking a better way for them,” an Uber Eats spokeswoman said.

On Tuesday, Uber introduced an injury compensation program for delivery staff in Japan in cooperation with Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. The company said it would pay all insurance premiums and up to ¥10 million ($93,000) in case of death.

In Japan, more than 3 million people are estimated to be working as freelancers, including contract workers, according to recent government data. The government is considering submitting a bill to the Diet next year to protect freelancers from being treated disadvantageously.

First published in The Japan Times on Oct. 3.

Warm up

One-minute chat about work environment

Game

Collect words related to eating: e.g: food, restaurant, tasty.

New words

1) compliance: the act of submitting to a demand, e.g. “The company must achieve full compliance with environmental regulations in order to operate in this city.”

2) compensation: something, typically money, awarded to someone for service or loss, e.g. “She received ¥50,000 in compensation after her dog was accidentally killed.”

Guess the headline

Uber Eats d_ _ _ _ _ _ _ staff in Japan form l_ _ _ _ union

Questions

1) What is the purpose of the union?

2) What was the reaction from Uber?

3) How many people are working freelance in Japan?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Have you used Uber Eats before? How do you like it?

2) What kind of support do you think freelancers need to thrive in the Japanese work environment?

Reference

これまでの宅配サービスの定義を覆すようなフードサービスは、注文者や店舗だけでなく宅配スタッフにも目新しさをもって広まり、日本でも多くの人の関心を引きながら導入されました。しかしそこからしばらくの時が立ち、新しい形態の働き方に疑問を感じる人々が声をあげはじめたようです。

この動きは多くの人の仕事環境を改善するものへと繋がるでしょうか。朝英語の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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