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MIT Technology Review

Gig workers are set to strike today demanding better protection from coronavirus

Home delivery services are experiencing unprecedented growth in demand as people stay home.

Associated Press

The news: Instacart grocery delivery workers across the US and Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, New York, plan to go on strike today. Required to continue leaving their homes for work, they want better physical and financial protection from coronavirus.

Specifically: Instacart workers say they will refuse to accept orders until the company agrees to give them hazard pay of an extra $5 per order, plus free soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes, and expand its sick pay policy to include workers with preexisting conditions who have been advised to stay home, Vice reports. They’ve vowed to stay on strike until their demands are met.

Not alone: Amazon employees at its Staten Island facility will strike today too, in protest against the company’s decision to keep the warehouse open after a case of coronavirus in the workforce was confirmed last week. They have said they will not return to work until it has been closed and sanitized. Amazon has closed other warehouses where workers have tested positive.

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Not alone: It isn’t just Amazon and Instacart where workers are unhappy. Many gig economy companies have said they’ll compensate workers for up to two weeks’ pay if they contract coronavirus or are instructed by a doctor to stay home. However, they are demanding proof of a positive test, which is often not feasible to provide because tests are in short supply in the US. Employees of Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and other gig companies say that makes it almost impossible to access the money.

A jobs boom: Home delivery services are experiencing unprecedented growth in demand as officials advise people to stay hom. Amazon, which employs over 750,000 people, is hiring 100,000 more workers to cope, while Instacart is seeking a further 300,000 shoppers, which will more than double its current workforce of 175,000.