Activists hold candlelit vigil outside Uber HQ for delivery drivers who died during the pandemic

Activists held a candlelit vigil in honor of all delivery drivers and gig workers who have died during the coronavirus pandemic outside Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco on Tuesday evening.

Footage posted on Twitter shows a convoy of cars parked outside the tech giant’s offices, including a truck with an LED screen emblazoned with the names of all the drivers who have died.

Advocacy group We Drive Progress said the demonstration was, “part of an international day of action calling attention to the health and safety issues app workers face everywhere, and especially during Covid-19.”

A small sidewalk memorial was also created displaying the names of deceased drivers and gig workers who have lost their lives throughout the pandemic inside a frame, accompanied by flowers and candles. 

According to some estimates, delivery drivers and ride share drivers rank in seventh place in a list of most dangerous jobs in the US, with a 24.7 fatality rate per 100,000 full-time workers or equivalent, or 918 total fatalities per year, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given the reliance on deliveries throughout the pandemic this figure is likely far higher for 2020. 

The death of Uber driver Khaled Zayyid, who passed away following complications from Covid-19 infection, sparked outrage online and has prompted fierce debate about workers rights in California and the US in general. Under current state law, gig companies like Uber and Lyft are supposed to designate workers central to their businesses as employees but sometimes the rule is snubbed to keep costs down. 

After California adopted the Proposition 22 initiative, Uber and Lyft are now exempt from a state labor law that would have made them treat drivers like employees and pay for their benefits like health care.

While in Australia, for example, there were five delivery deaths reported in two months, prompting the government to launch a task force to investigate economy worker safety.  

Despite the already precarious nature of the gig economy, particularly during the pandemic, ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft recently announced measures aimed at supporting vulnerable people as they undergo the mass coronavirus vaccination. 

Lyft announced 60 million free or discounted rides as part of a “universal vaccine access campaign,” launched in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, insurance company Anthem Inc. and nonprofit United Way among others. According to Lyft, some 15 million Americans may struggle to reach their nearest vaccination center.

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Separately, Uber announced 10 million free or discounted rides for health care workers, senior citizens and other people in vulnerable categories who require assistance in order to “help make sure that transportation is not a barrier to getting the vaccine.”

Research by the American Hospital Association found that 3.6 million Americans miss medical appointments due to transportation issues and difficulties each year. 

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Source:RT World News

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