On the eve of a planned shutdown by its buyers, Instacart said today it will distribute independently developed hand sanitizer to its shoppers.
Instacart shoppers plan to reject new orders on Monday because they say the grocery delivery company has not done enough to protect them during the coronavirus outbreak. The strike is still ongoing, the workers said in a statement today, calling Instacart’s response a “sick joke.”
One of the shopper’s demands was that Instacart provides protective gear as a hand sanitizer, but organizers also want the company to add a $ 5 per-risk payment per order and extend its sick leave policy.
“Given the wide supply chain shortage as a hand sanitizer, Instacart worked with a third party to manufacture its own hand sanitizer for Instacart shoppers to overcome existing inventory delays and global supply chain shortages, without taking away resources from health workers. ” The company said in an emailed statement to The Verge.
The group of shoppers said they have been asking for hand sanitizer for weeks and questioned how the company was able to get it so quickly. “Where were these efforts when workers started asking for it?” your statement read. “It is abhorrent that it has taken them so long to act, but on the positive side, it shows that a strike will work to change their behavior.”
The hand sanitizer is a liquid product based on ethyl alcohol that Instacart says meets CDC guidelines. It will be available free of charge to shoppers who request it through a special website, the company said.
Lead organizer Vanessa Bain told The Verge on Friday that she and other shoppers are concerned about their health, and that Instacart’s measures were not far enough away to guarantee her safety.
The company announced on March 9 that it would grant 14 days of paid leave to part-time workers or shoppers who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 or had been placed in mandatory quarantine.
On Friday, the company said it would extend the benefit until May 8. It also introduced a bonus program, based on hours worked between March 15 and April 15 and ranging from $25 to $200, and additional promotions for full-service buyers to earn more based on regional demand.
Bain previously said the sick leave plan was insufficient, as many shoppers don’t have health insurance and would likely work while sick, even if they could get a coronavirus test.
In addition to providing hand sanitizer, Instacart said today that it is changing the tip options in its app. Under the new structure, the “none” option will be removed and the app will remember a customer’s previous advice and set it as the default for future orders.
However, in their statement today, workers called this plan “ridiculous,” adding that it likely “would not provide any significant benefit to shoppers.”
Instacart has announced plans to recruit 300,000 new shoppers due to overwhelming demand for grocery delivery during the coronavirus outbreak.
For its part, the group of workers says it was “encouraged by the large amount of support” it received since it announced its strike plans, adding that “the strike is still going on.”