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TWU WELCOMES VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR URGENT FEDERAL REFORM

May 17, 2021

The Transport Workers’ Union has welcomed support by the Victorian Government for the setting up of an independent body at national level to deliver binding determinations for gig economy workers.

The recommendation is part of a response by the Victorian Government to a groundbreaking inquiry into the gig economy.

Victorian Tasmanian Branch Secretary John Berger said food delivery riders and rideshare drivers are desperate for changes to improve their working conditions.

“The Victorian Government must be commended for this deep examination of the gig economy and for backing national regulatory reform. Over the past year the situation has deteriorated with the deaths of five delivery riders in the space of just three months and appalling exposés of abuses by the likes of Uber and Deliveroo. There is no time to waste in terms of implementing recommendations which will improve workers’ lives. We urge the Government to move quickly and for the Federal Government to step up,” he said.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the inquiry and the Victorian Government’s response shows the need for action by the Federal Government.

“We welcome this positive response to the Victorian gig inquiry and we note it states that regulatory reforms must come from the Federal Government. Uber doesn’t just operate in Victoria, its exploitative model is a national one. Sadly the Federal Government is failing in its duty to protect workers and this week in its budget refused to commit any funding to combatting horrific exploitation and risks to lives in the gig economy. The Victorian inquiry has recommended a body to be set up to hear the demands of workers and the Victorian Government has noted that this must be done nationally. We agree and we join the call on the Federal Government to act,” he said.

The Government’s response on the setting up of an independent body to make binding determinations states: “The Victorian Government also agrees with the Report’s conclusion that change should be led nationally, and that the best outcome would be for the Commonwealth to undertake meaningful reform in this area.”

The TWU has taken several cases against gig economy companies over the exploitation of workers, including ongoing cases for unfair sacking and gross underpayment against Deliveroo. The TWU won an unfair dismissal case involving Melbourne delivery rider Josh Klooger against Foodora in 2018. The company subsequently left Australia and was forced to pay millions in underpaid wages and non-payment of superannuation to its workers.

In December Uber settled a case involving the sacking of an Adelaide delivery driver who was 10 minutes late with an order. The Federal Court appeared to be poised to rule against the company as it savaged its business model and attempts to deny any relationship to its workers.

Menulog and Hungry Panda have moved to recognise rights of riders. Menulog said it will trial minimum rights and rates for riders while Hungry Panda reversed rate cuts and reinstated two sacked riders.

Surveys have shown:

·      Food delivery riders earn as little as $5 per delivery

·      70% say they are struggling to pay bills and buy food

·      More than one in three has been injured on the job, with the vast majority (80%) receiving no support from their company

·      Rideshare drivers earn an average of $12 an hour

·      17% have been sexually harassed or assaulted by passengers

·      85% said their wages had decreased while working in the gig economy

·      36% had been involved in a car accident while working