A powerful labor union representing Uber Eats delivery staff across Japan has this week requested increased levels of compensation, as a result of what it deems higher risks on the back of increased demand during COVID-19 lockdowns across the country.
Citing figures showing that almost half of staff involved in accidents in the first three months of the year required four weeks or more sick leave following work related accidents, the union says the U.S. based delivery operator was failing to cover medical fees in a number of these cases.
Toshiaki Tsuchiya, a union representative charged with investigating the accidents went on record at a press conference in the Japanese capital saying “The reported accidents are the tip of the iceberg.”
“The number of staff riding bicycles is rapidly increasing because they don’t need a driver’s license, but there are no lectures on basic traffic rules by the operator. The quality and safety of staff cannot be ensured,” Tsuchiya added, before wrapping with “(T)he more workers we have for our food delivery service amid the virus pandemic, the more accidents we have consequently.”
The U.S. operators behind Uber Eats have put the the increase in demand partly down to lockdowns by local governments, including Tokyo, in a nationwide bid to counter the coronavirus pandemic.
Uber Technologies has, however, repeatedly claimed that its delivery staff are “not workers under the Japanese labor union law but (are in fact) independent contractors” according to media reports in Japan.
As such, the company has reportedly pressured its staff injured in accidents to operate independently in a bid to seek compensation with no support offered by the company.