Instacart shoppers, led by the folks over at Gig Workers Collective, are planning a nationwide strike in protest of the company’s practices amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Vice first reported. Shoppers, who are responsible for grocery shopping and deliveries, say they have urged Instacart to take proper safety precautions, such as providing hand sanitizer and disinfectant products, but “have been ignored,” Gig Workers Collective wrote in a post today.
On March 30, shoppers will strike and not return to work until their demands are met. Shoppers are demanding Instacart provide personal protective equipment at no cost to workers and hazard pay of $5 extra per order, change the default tip to 10%, extend the sick pay policy to those who have a doctor’s note for a pre-existing condition that may make them more susceptible to contracting the virus and extend the deadline to qualify for those benefits beyond April 8th.
“The health and safety of our entire community — shoppers, customers, and employees — is our first priority,” an Instacart spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Our goal is to offer a safe and flexible earnings opportunity to shoppers, while also proactively taking the appropriate precautionary measures to operate safely. We want to underscore that we absolutely respect the rights of shoppers to provide us feedback and voice their concerns. It’s a valuable way for us to continuously make improvements to the shopper experience and we’re committed to supporting this important community during this critical time.”
Shortly after their demands went public, Instacart outlined its plans to extend its financial assistance through May 8, 2020. The company says it is also extending contactless deliveries to alcohol so that shoppers will no longer need to collect signatures from customers unless it’s explicitly required by the state or retailer. While Instacart has addressed some of the demands, the company has not met all of them.
This all comes after Instacart announced it would bring on another 300,000 independent contractors to keep up with the demand that has resulted from many Americans staying at home during the pandemic.
“Instacart has a well established history of exploiting its Shoppers, one that extends years back before our current crisis,” the shoppers wrote. “Now, its mistreatment of Shoppers has stooped to an all-time low. They are profiting astronomically off of us literally risking our lives, all while refusing to provide us with effective protection, meaningful pay, and meaningful benefits.”
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Instacart has offered sick pay for in-store shoppers and extended pay for independent contractors. The company has also implemented contactless deliveries, but shoppers say these efforts fall short. In fact, shoppers say Instacart has failed to honor its promise of paying shoppers up to 14 days of pay if diagnosed or placed in quarantine.
It’s now widely understood that gig workers are providing essential services during these times, as many cities have enacted shelter-in-place ordinances and as vulnerable people are remaining at home in order to reduce their risk of exposure to the virus. In San Francisco, legislators are pushing for more gig worker protections while the House of Representatives is currently reviewing the $2 trillion stimulus package that would provide gig workers with unemployment insurance.
Gurupriyan is a Software Engineer and a technology enthusiast, he’s been working on the field for the last 10 years. Currently focusing on mobile app development and IoT.