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Drivers in Calgary join others across the country in ride-share, food delivery strike

Some Calgary Uber drivers joined others across the country — and overseas — in a strike over wages and working conditions on Wednesday.

Calgary Uber and Lyft driver Ravinder Arora said his pay has dropped nearly 50 per cent since he first started driving five years ago. 

“Before, you used to make like $5,000 a month to cover all your house, expenses and everything but now the drivers are not getting more than $3,000,” he said. 

Arora and others turned off their apps on Wednesday to demonstrate their concerns, hoping that if enough drivers took part, it would send a message to ride-share companies. 

In Toronto, dozens of ride-share and food delivery drivers joined the strike, as did drivers across the U.S., in cities such as Chicago, Miami and Austin. In the U.K., delivery drivers said they would turn off their apps and refuse deliveries between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Arora said he wants Uber and Lyft to provide better per-kilometre pay, as well as pay drivers for the kilometres they drive to reach pick-up locations. Right now, he makes no money during that part of his workday. 

Right now, Arora said Uber only pays drivers $0.80 per kilometer, an amount that barely allows them to cover expenses such as vehicle leases and fuel. 

“For example, if I get a ride, I [might] have to go like four or five kilometres and the ride is only three kilometres,” said Arora. “So I get paid for those three kilometres which I’ve done for the ride, not for the kilometres that I went for the pickup.

Arora said one reason for the drop in wages is due to too many drivers flooding the market. Calgary licensed about a thousand more drivers between 2022 and 2023.

In a statement, Uber said a cap on the number of drivers wouldn’t work. It added that the company has been advocating for industry-wide standards that protect flexibility and offer a distinct set of benefits, including a minimum earnings standard of at least 120 per cent of minimum wage during engaged time.

Jackson Khorma has been driving for Uber and Lyft for about three years. He believes Uber has no incentive to put a cap on drivers, even if supply does outweigh demand. 

“They’re making the same money, their target is not to listen to the driver, they just want every customer to get a ride in one second,” said Khorma. “So they just keep hiring.” 

He said he has to work more hours in the day just to make ends meet. 

“There’s no life [for] the drivers these days. Whenever I’m leaving my home, my daughter says ‘see you tomorrow Dad’, because she knows that I’m not gonna come [home] tonight.” 

“Sometimes, [I’m] coming home at two in the morning and am leaving home in another three to four hours, because it’s just a struggle now these days.”

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