Officials have been warning people around the world about the spread of Coronavirus and urging people to stay inside and social distance. A large number of the workforce is now working remotely and strict measures on social gatherings have been put in place. People around the world are frantically rushing to do their best to avoid the virus and stay healthy, all while soluting the nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, etc who put themselves on the front line. However, there is another category of workers who are being entirely overlooked. Gig workers. They’re always on call, interacting with multiple people daily, and there is very little to protect them from infection.
Forums for rideshare drivers have seen a huge increase in discussions the past several weeks as Covid-19 continues to spread throughout the world. Drivers are worried about how to keep their cars sanitized, about getting the virus, and the fear that they may be spreading the virus. Yet, as driving is the sole income source for many people, they feel they cannot stop working now and need the income more than ever. Still, with the Coronavirus soaring and people staying home more and more, we will likely see a decrease in drivers, perhaps even to the point of having a shortage. The world has come to depend on these gig-workers to get us to and from all the places we need to be. Without them, life would be more difficult. The shortage of drivers will mean higher profits for the drivers who do continue to work in the face of the Coronavirus threat but at what cost? There is more concern over the lack of options for rideshare drivers. Many rely on this gig economy to pay their rent and put food in their cupboards. If the choice is to pay rent or risk illness, a portion of drivers will choose to continue working to provide for their families.
Drivers are experiencing feelings of being forgotten and left behind by the government and the company’s they “work” for. There has been a lack of communication from the rideshare companies about support and resources available to drivers throughout this outbreak. Instead drivers are having to lean on each other for advice and suggestions on how to stay safe.
Instead of offering help to their drivers, Uber has suspended accounts “out of an abundance of caution.” In Mexico City, Uber suspended 240 user accounts who were suspected to be possible carriers of Coronavirus. One driver was suspended in London after driving a Coronavirus patient to the hospital. Though this strategy prevents spreading the virus, it does nothing to protect drivers or passengers from contracting it in the first place. Uber is not on the offensive, they are creating a simple solution once the problem has already arrived. Uber drivers feel like the company doesn’t care about their health and safety, which impacts the health and safety of those they drive.
What are your thoughts? Stay safe out there whether you are driving or riding!