The Damage Caused to Canadians and the Economy by Precarious Work

Predatory Expansion of Software Platforms

Foodora couriers carry banner in the Toronto Labour Day parade, September 2, 2019.

The supranational financial oligarchy has launched an expansion in Canada to tighten its grip on the economy. The oligarchs are using software platforms to target urban passenger transportation, the delivery of freight and prepared restaurant food, hotel, home and business cleaning and renovation, construction and the trafficking of contract workers to all manner of public and private employers.

The aim of the financial oligarchy, as always, is not to use the advances in scientific technique to favour the working people and society, humanize the social and natural environment and bring enlightened planning to urban and rural life but to expand their private control of the economy, compete and defeat their rivals and maximize their private profit. The software platforms and applications on smartphones turn the working class into "Workers-on-Demand" or gig workers, without rights, in precarious employment and with below-standard wages, benefits and working conditions.

To launch their expansions into new cities, the supranational ride hailing companies attempt to gain favourable public opinion from users of their apps through repeated exposures in the mass media of the chaos, anarchy and shortcomings of urban mass transit and in particular the taxi industry. Their solution to problems is not to recognize the necessity of free public mass transit with enlightened planning to favour working people, including the use of software applications for example to connect passengers with public micro-buses. It is to find ways to increase car use, disrupt the traditional taxi industry, exploit the large numbers of vulnerable workers desperate for work, especially new immigrants, and in this way abscond with ever greater amounts of the economy's social wealth.

The oligarchs spend millions of dollars to advertise and lobby political representatives at various levels to open the door for their operations to skirt existing regulations especially those governing the taxi industry and to operate with impunity on the backs of the working class. With a wink and a nod they float the fiction that ride hailing drivers are not their employees but so-called independent contractors and not worthy of even minimal labour standards. This illusion eliminates in a flash any notion of regular stable employment, overtime pay, paid vacations and holidays, or payroll deductions for employment insurance, injured workers' compensation and pensions.

The software platform companies already have a substantial section of the working class in a vulnerable contracted form of employment. Even before Uber began operations in the BC Lower Mainland in late January, it had 90,000 workers-on-demand as drivers in Canada. Beyond drivers delivering passengers and food, hotel workers and others are being trafficked through apps and assigned to specific workplaces for a limited time called a gig. By 2016, Statistics Canada estimates the number of gig or workers-on-demand had swollen to 1.66 million workers.

To avoid corporate income taxes, payment through the software app goes out of the country, at least with Uber according to several investigations, usually to the Netherlands and then on to tax havens like Bermuda. Much of the money as profit is reportedly used to conquer new areas such as Uber and Lyft have done in BC with the NDP/Green coalition government giving them the right to operate without any of the regulations now governing the taxi industry, and without concern for the added pollution and vehicle congestion on the roads and the obvious abuse of vulnerable workers and reduced income for taxi drivers.

TML Weekly calls on Canadians to provide full support to the campaigns currently underway to organize ride hailing drivers and delivery workers in defence of their rights and claims on the new value they produce, as well as to denounce the cartel parties in power for capitulating to the pressure from the supranational financial oligarchy to facilitate pay-the-rich schemes.

See Uber Drivers United and Justice for Foodora Couriers! for further information.

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 3 - February 8, 2020

Article Link:
The Damage Caused to Canadians and the Economy by Precarious Work: Predatory Expansion of Software Platforms


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