🥡 Uber [del]Eats
When food delivery requests soared during the pandemic, platforms like Uber Eats scrambled to meet demand. In France, many undocumented immigrants found this work easy to secure. Now, as delivery app usage is falling, unions across Europe are accusing Uber of exploiting migrants in boom times and dumping them after. Since the beginning of the summer, Uber Eats has deactivated and blocked some 2,500 accounts. Union leaders argue these measures won't stop migrants from working, but rather they will push them underground. “These undocumented migrants, who had accounts in their name, most often obtained with Italian residence permits, will find themselves renting accounts on the black market,” Jérôme Pimot, president of the Collective of Platform Couriers (CLAP) in France, explained to Wired.
Uber spokesperson, Matt Keirle, told Wired the deleted accounts were “part of our commitment to fight document fraud and illegal work,” adding that an audit of 60,000 accounts in France found that 4% were fraudulent. He did not address why the audits were conducted over 2 years and thousands of deliveries later.
Moritz Altenried, who researches labor at Humboldt University in Berlin, says this exploitation of labor is common among digital companies despite their claims otherwise. “Platforms [also] need these workforces, otherwise they’d be struggling to find workers doing jobs under these conditions.”
Still, as food delivery orders plummet, Uber is struggling to maintain stock value. “Investors have written off food delivery as the next shoe to drop as consumers tighten up their wallets,” Nikhil Devnani, an industry analyst at Bernstein, told Reuters.
While Uber faces these allegations from undocumented migrants and unions, they also face protests from taxi drivers in Europe. As Politico writes, the protestors are angry with “how Uber circumvented regulations and courted lawmakers, including French President Emmanuel Macron, as it expanded its business.” The drivers are demanding accountability for the firm.
Whether Uber's claims about its workforce culling are true or not, this pattern of under-the-table hiring of migrants, then dumping them to be shielded from legal issues is played out again and again across Europe and North America. And this two-pronged attack against Uber in Europe is not a great look for the company either.