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Instacart shoppers plan strike over treatment during pandemic

New York (CNN Business)Some Instacart shoppers are planning to strike on Monday, accusing the company of not providing them enough protections during the coronavirus pandemic.

The strike is being called for by Instacart shoppers and a newly formed non-profit called Gig Workers Collective. It was first reported Friday by Vice.
“Instacart has still not provided essential protections to Shoppers on the front lines that could prevent them from becoming carriers, falling ill themselves, or worse,” Instacart Shoppers and Gig Workers Collective wrote in a Medium blog post.
Instacart is one of several companies delivering essentials to households and now expanding rapidly at a time when much of the American economy is at risk of contracting. Amazon and Walmart each recently announced they plan to hire at least 100,000 workers due to increased customer demand. Yet, there are concerns about whether companies are doing enough for workers, who are the backbone of the services they offer, during this unprecedented public health crisis.
While Instacart has touted its surge in customer orders in recent weeks and introduced an option for customers to have orders left at their doorsteps, workers have criticized the company for not doing enough for them.
Demands include providing workers with safety items including hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sprays, hazard pay, and an expansion of its coronavirus pay to include those with underlying health conditions. The workers specified in the Medium post that they wanted an extra $5 per order and a default tip of at least 10% of the order total.
The company has offered up to 14 days of pay for any hourly employee or full-service shopper who is diagnosed with Covid-19. After workers made demands, the company extended the deadline to apply for these benefits to May 6. It also added contactless alcohol delivery and additional promotions and bonuses for employees.
“The health and safety of our entire community — shoppers, customers, and employees — is our first priority,” said Instacart in a statement Saturday. “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.”
The grocery delivery company announced last Monday that it plans to add another 300,000 “full-service shoppers” in North America over the next three months in response to overwhelming demand spurred by coronavirus. These workers shop and make deliveries for customers and are treated as independent contract workers by Instacart.
“The last few weeks have been the busiest in Instacart’s history and our teams are working around the clock to reliably and safely serve all members of our community,” said Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta in a statement last Monday.

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