August 28, 2019

Deliveroo Accused Of Being A Deliverort For Riders

The Project, 27 August 2019

Riders are calling for better pay and work conditions.

Last year, The Project brought a story about a David vs Goliath battle, with food delivery riders taking on Foodora over work and pay conditions. Subsequently, Foodora was forced to pay 1700 of its workers $3 million in back pay and superannuation, before exiting the country.

It was hoped at the time that this victory would lead to a change in the food app industry to ensure that riders would no longer be exploited. Unfortunately, for some riders, things are only getting worse.

Marcello Batista, who started working for Deliveroo in 2017 and still works for them, told The Project that in the last 18 months, his pay had dropped by 50%. “Sometimes I go to work and am available for them, and I don’t receive anything if there’s no orders.”

Companies such as Foodora, Deliveroo and UberEats classify these riders and drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees, and for this reason argue that they are therefore not entitled to the minimum wage, superannuation, holiday leave as well as workplace health and safety protections.

“They treat me as an employee,” says Marcello. “They expect you to attend shifts and if you don’t, they take out your statistics and it gets harder to get more shifts in the following week… A lot of riders feel they are being exploited, but they don’t want to speak up because they are afraid of something happening to them.”

Jeremy Rhind, a public servant in Canberra quit working for Deliveroo after realising how poor the pay was. “I was doing it for about nine or ten months, after looking over my payslips I realised financially it wasn’t really worth doing.”

According to Jeremy’s calculations, he was paid around $10.50 an hour, which is about $9 below the minimum hourly rate in Australia. According to Michael Kaine, a lawyer from TWU, this is significant. “Being underpaid by $9 every hour is a lot of money,” Michael told the project.

“Companies like Deliveroo try to sell their systems as if workers get flexibility, but the only flexibility they get is the decision whether or not to turn on the app, once they turn on the app they are completely captive to the company’s systems. They’re told what to do, when to do it how to do it and they are paid what the company wants to pay them and it’s not very much.”

Jeremy has filed a case in the Federal Circuit Court reclaiming $6000 in wages, $2000 in penalty rates, $1000 in superannuation and $600 for working on public holidays. The case could have huge implications for the entire gig economy because if Jeremy is found to be an employee, that could set a precedent for Deliveroo’s thousands of riders in Australia who might be found to be the same.

Michael Kaine is calling for the government to step in and regulate the industry, telling The Project: “I think companies like Deliveroo are involved in the biggest sham that the economy has ever seen.”

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