October 9, 2022

NSW Labor gig rights press conference transcript






SUBJECTS: NSW Labor’s commitment to modernise NSW law to respond to the rise of the gig economy.

CHRIS MINNS, NSW LABOR LEADER: Welcome to the New South Wales Parliament House. We’ve got quite a few people here to talk about our announcement this morning, which we think is very important, both for the workplace and the New South Wales economy. Of course, I’m joined with Daniel Mookhey, Sophie Cotsis, Mark Morey, the Secretary of Unions NSW, Richard Olsen, the Secretary of the Transport Workers Union, Angus McFarland, the Secretary of the ASU. We’ve got Yavus, Steve and Claire and Assad is also here. And some of them will speak a little bit later on about the announcement which I’m about to make, which is that if Labor is elected in 2023, we’ll introduce a portable leave scheme for workers in the NDIS, aged care and gig economy. And we’ll also introduce workers compensation entitlements for those that work in the gig economy. These are important reforms. They match in part what’s already in place in Queensland and Victoria, they are long overdue in New South Wales. We can’t be in a situation where we’re recruiting often young people, students and international migrants to an industry that we know to be dangerous without the workplace safety regime in place to protect these people when they’re at work.

Like many people, I was shocked in 2020 when five people lost their lives working in the gig economy and I think it was a wakeup call for many people to say what are we doing? Why are we recruiting people to a dangerous industry without providing the protections that are required for people who work in industries like that? This is an important reform. It was promised in part by the New South Wales Government in 2020. And I know Daniel, Sophie and myself expected reform to take place inside the New South Wales Parliament. Bipartisan support that we – Bipartisan reform, I should say, that we were eager and desperate to support. Unfortunately, we never saw that legislation on the floor of the New South Wales Parliament and as a result, those needed reforms were never implemented. So we’ll work with industry, we’ll work with the union movement, we’ll work with employees in these industries to bring about this fundamental reform. We think it’s long overdue, and this is sending a message to the wider community and economy that we will protect workers in the new economy. And we’ve got a plan for the future of work in New South Wales.

Just want to say one more thing before I pass over to Daniel and that is obviously there is a flood emergency right now in parts of New South Wales. While the rain is not falling at the moment in metropolitan Sydney, the risk has not left. And there’s a massive warning to those who live and work, particularly as we get to work on Monday, in flood prone areas. My message is don’t drive through floodwaters. If you’ve got any doubt at all, don’t drive through it. The life you save could be your own, a family member, or an emergency service worker who’s been sent in to try and save your life. This is a decision that many people make, many people get it wrong and we don’t want to lose lives in these natural disasters and these emergency situations. So listen to the emergency broadcaster, follow the advice on websites like the Bureau of Meteorology, and the State Emergency Service. Let’s all come together during this very difficult period and hopefully we don’t lose life in what is a natural disaster. Listen to the emergency service professionals. And hopefully we can get through this in the next 72 hours or the next week. Daniel.

DANIEL MOOKHEY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE GIG ECONOMY:Thanks, Chris. Daniel Mookhey, NSW Shadow Minister for the Gig Economy. Labor is vowing to modernise New South Wales laws to respond to the rise of the gig economy. This is the next step in our long-term plan to rebuild the economy after the COVID 19 pandemic. The reason why this announcement is so necessary is that for nearly a decade now the gig economy has been allowed to proliferate in New South Wales but we haven’t overhauled our laws to keep up. The announcements were making today are a big step towards modernising our laws so they keep up with how people are working today. The introduction of a workers compensation style system for the gig economy is a big step forward to make sure that if a person is injured or killed at work, they’re supported, and their family is cared for. Equally, the introduction of a portable lead scheme is something that the community sector, the disability sector, and the NDIS sector has been clamouring for, for nearly a decade. Similar schemes already exist in Queensland and Victoria is past time that a worker in New South Wales who’s working in the NDIS has the same protection and the same entitlements as a worker in Victoria and a worker in Queensland. We will also be modernising Chapter Six of the New South Wales Industrial Relations Act which is a system that’s existed since 1979 in New South Wales, to make sure that a gig worker who’s working in the transport industry has the same protections as other workers in the transport industry, including an entitlement to minimum pay, minimum conditions and a system that helps them resolve disputes should they find themselves requiring assistance. We’ll also be moving to introduce enforceable codes of conduct under workplace health and safety laws because fundamentally SafeWork NSW needs a law to enforce. That’s a big step forward ensuring that there is clear rules for all the platforms that are engaging in this industry. And finally, we will be reviewing the New South Wales Payroll Tax Act to ensure that any online platform is competing fairly with non-gig work. No business who’s competing with the gig economy should be at a competitive disadvantage as a result of our tax laws. This review is necessary.

This policy came from the Future of Work inquiry, but it also follows a decade of campaigning by the trade union movement as well. And I want to acknowledge and thank them to for all the assistance that they’ve provided. We have had the opportunity to speak to many, many gig companies over the last three to four years as we’ve gone about developing this policy. This policy will have no cost for New South Wales taxpayers because it will follow the same principles that already exists when it comes to portable leave schemes and workers compensation schemes, which is to of course recover the costs from the users themselves. This is a big step forward. We cannot allow another decade of drift to continue, which will simply put more gig workers at risk and will deny benefits to a hard-working community services sector when other states have already established. Our work has changed our laws have not. NSW Labor determined to act. Sophie.

SOPHIE COTSIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WORK HEALTH & SAFETY:Thank you, Chris and Daniel. Firstly, I’d like to express my condolences to the families of those workers in the gig economy and other workplaces who’ve passed away. These are very important laws that the NSW Labor will establish if we are fortunate enough to win in March 2023. This is about a whole lot of people who’ve come in collaborating, because many workers have died at the workplace and this is something that is so important for people to know that when they’re working in these jobs, that they have workers compensations that their families, the grieving family and those families that are in pain and suffering, to know that their deaths have not gone in vain, that we recognize that the Labor Party recognize and as the announcement that’s been made today by Chris, is that it’s a recognition and an acknowledgement and also making the wrong right.

I also am very, very excited that we’re announcing the portable leave scheme. This is something that has been advocated by many in the services sector, in the care sector, and for many people who work in this sector, 70% are women who are insecure, precarious work, independent contractors who are in this work who sometimes have three or four employers that they have to deal with and they don’t have that permanency, they don’t have that recognition of service. And this is an acknowledgement to the workers out there in New South Wales, that the Labor Party recognizes your service. They want to ensure we want to ensure that there is security of your service and an acknowledgement and a respect and a dignity for the work that you do. It is very, very important work and for many have a degree, they have a Master’s, they have a TAFE qualification. And it is important that their skills and qualifications are recognized and as we see their skill shortages, it’s really important that there is a scheme and portable leave scheme that recognizes that tenure of service. So these are very important reforms and I acknowledge the work of everybody that’s collaborated and look forward to working together with employers, of course with the unions and acknowledge their work and I’d like to introduce Mark Morey Secretary of Unions New South Wales.

MARK MOREY, SECRETARY, UNIONS NSW: Thanks Sophie, Mark Morey Secretary,Unions New South Wales. The Union movement in New South Wales today welcomes the Opposition’s announcements, congratulates a leader Chris Minns, Sophie Cotsis, and Daniel Mookhey for their work. These proposals do three things that will keep workers safe into the future. They will ensure workers are paid properly and receive their benefits, these are workers who work for multiple employers so as they move around it ensures that they retain the entitlements they have worked for. And thirdly, it ensures that there is a level playing field for business. These are large companies that have made lots of money in an unregulated environment, these companies have a social licence to operate in this state. And finally, they’re being asked to step up and be part of the community, it is so important that this legislation and these proposals are passed. Should we have a state Labor government after March next year. The other thing I will say is that the NSW Liberal government last week, put their response to the 2020 report into the future of work, they abdicated any responsibility for workers in NSW, they walked away from protecting workers, they walked away from making workers safer and they walked away from ensuring workers got paid properly. This government is not up to the task, instead of bleaching and carrying on if they cannot do the job, just get out of the way.

Thank you very much. I’ll pass on to Richard Olsen, the TWU Secretary

RICHARD OLSEN, SECRETARY, AUSTRALIAN TRANSPORT UNION:Thanks Mark. On behald of all gig workers in New South Wales, we really welcome the position that has been now put by the Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales. It gives us great comfort in going forward knowing that we now can look forward to getting legislation passed that protect employees at work that gives workers compensation rights, that give rights of pay and conditions within the workplace to all workers regardless of what they are called and or what they are deemed to be. Whether it’d be an employee contractor, an owner, driver, gig worker, and in particular, the gig worker who has campaigned for so long in an attempt to get justice in the workplaces and beyond. When we’ve seen over five people died on our road here and more than seven people across Australia died on our roads without workers compensation rights. That is unacceptable in this day and age and it’s great to see that Chris Minns and Labor Party is going to stand up and move early next year, hopefully depending on the result, obviously, but we are very keen to move forward on this. We support Labor’s position in relation to this because this will give justice to people from the past and it will certainly lead us into a much more secure future for gig workers in New South Wales, which is what they need. We cannot have and continue to have as other people have said, a workforce that has no rights, has no rights whatsoever. Cannot go to work, don’t know when they’re going to get paid, they don’t know for how long they’ll be paid. They can be there for 12, 14, 16 hours and only be paid a couple of dollars for that in any given time and that is unacceptable. We need to do better. It seems as though and we certainly do support the Labor Party’s position here and their announcement that it’s about time. We’ve heard from other speakers, the Liberal party has been certainly missing on this for well over a decade. I congratulate all the gig workers who have really been campaigning hard on this for a long time and it’s now going to come about next year, that’s we’re hopeful that that will occur. We’ll be working with the party to ensure that happens.

Thankyou. I shall hand over to Angus McFarland secretary of the ASU.

ANGUS MCFARLAND, SECRETARY, AUSTRALIAN SERVICES UNION:Thank you. Hi, everyone, Angus McFarland secretary of the Australian Services Union. Well, what a great announcement today from NSW Labor, the NDIS and community services sector is the fastest growing industry in our state. Just in the next 12 months alone we need an extra 30,000 jobs in this sector but the problem is workers are leaving in their droves. And why is that? Well, it’s because one in three jobs in the NDIS are casual,  of the permanent jobs 80% are short hour contract jobs. And so what does that mean? Workers are working across multiple employers and also finding work in the emerging gig economy and as sole traders. Portable leave schemes will make these essential jobs, better jobs, it will also mean that the NDIS is the best possible NDIS in our state because it will attract and retain workers to this growing sector. Workers in Queensland, Victoria and soon to be South Australia already have portable leave schemes in the disability and community services sector, why should NSW workers not have this. Thanks to NSW Labor today they just might in just a few months time.


YAVYZ CIKAR: Good morning, I am the uncle of one of the Uber drivers killed in 2020, 2nd of April. We went through a very difficult time, it was a big shock for the family while residing in Turkey. So his family was denied any compensation because Uber was saying they did not have any liability towards this incident because Burak was not working for them at the time of the accident, while he was still logged in and receiving jobs while he was under attack, and while at that same moment there was some messages sent by Uber for other job. So with 11 minutes difference between two [inaudible], they denied to pay any compensation. But there is no amount to cover such a loss for the family, the only concern what we have is the justice to be done. And at last, we are seeing some movement coming from Labor Party, that this justice is gonna be done definitely and we are looking forward to that. And there are no gray areas that a worker wherever they are either in Victoria, Queensland or New South Wales, they should have protection while they are working. If a person in need because a student who came from overseas is working under very harsh circumstances, to make some money to cover his expenses and he’s in a danger every moment of the work while he’s working but there is no cover and this is something totally unacceptable. And we still have some difficulty to talk about this incident to the father of the deceased, he can’t take it. He’s 77 years old and all he asked me to pass the message is he’s  not after any money he wants to see the justice, and we  hope is will be coming soon. And we hope Labor will  get to the office and change all these unjust thins. And that’s all I want to say, thank you.

STEVE KHOUW, FOOD DELIVERY DRIVER: Good day I’m Steve Khouw, I’ve been a food delivery rider for like five years plus, I love my job, it provide extra income. I grant it’s scalable and flexible but you know, it’s not without its danger, you get knocked by the elements. The problem we have right now is the pressure of time. When you have  had this text you got to be at the restaurant by 8pm, when you have another text you got 10 minutes to get to the customer to drop off and if you don’t, you risk of getting your contract terminated just like that. It’s an uneven power level, it’s unfair, it’s been like that for the last five years. And when you work in a situation where you don’t know how much you’re going to earn, there’s no minimum wage whatsoever, there’s no protection against injuries, no compound no nothing. What do you do? Well, my colleagues in this economy, they’re quite vulnerable, I can tell you that, they just try to make ends meet and that’s all they’re trying to do. The situation right now is that we had a task force the NSW Government established, a task force and I’m part of that but I reckon they’d lost the plot, they missed the point. Instead what they do is that they start talking about punity measures to make it worse. You know, if you ended up not having a bell on your bicycle, you get fined and when you get by and you know, with the pressure of time, and the uncertainty of the money you’re gonna get it makes you go faster and that’s where all the accidents happen. It’s just the catch 22 and just spiraling down, it ain’t working. So on behalf of the food delivery riders community I welcome the NSW Labor parliamentarians for this initiative. This is solely miss because this economy unregular unregulated as it is ain’t gonna work, There will be more fatalities, there’ll be more injuries especially when you look out there like last night it wasn’t raining cats and dogs it was raining hippos and elephants, I can tell you that because I was riding last night and it ain’t gonna work. So Good on you guys. Thank you.

CLAIRE URBAN, DISABILITY SUPPORT WORKER: Hello, I’m Claire Urban and I’ve been a Disability Support Worker, sole trader for the past five years and I’m very thankful today for this announcement because as a person who’s supporting the most vulnerable in the community, it’s hard for me to be able to take sick leave or annual leave, as I don’t have, you know the entitlements to fall back on. So I think it’s important for people in my industry to have self care and if you can’t take sick leave when you need it because you know, you won’t be able to support your family. So I think it’s very wonderful news today, we’re very thankful and hope that this will be an issue that will be considered and implemented.

Thank you.

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