February 4, 2021

Why we need regulation in the gig economy

Surveys of workers in the gig economy conducted in 2020 showed that food delivery riders are paid just over $10 an hour after costs, and rideshare drivers just over $12 (you can see the snapshots for food delivery riders here, and rideshare drivers here).

Coming as five delivery riders lost their lives over three months in 2020, the surveys are a stark reminder of the human cost of being forced to work harder and longer for less pay. With Uber Eats again changing the goal posts in 2021, and other companies slashing pay, it’s become ever more clear that we need an independent tribunal that can protect gig workers.


Uber Eats changes its contract

A new contract sent to food delivery riders seeks to distance Uber from an employee relationship with its riders, That follows heavy criticism from Federal Court judges over its sham gig economy business model in an unfair dismissal case which the company chose to settle. Following strong opposition from the TWU, Uber has already backflipped on the contract, removing a clause that would have meant riders would be sacked for speaking out against the company.

The full clause stated that riders would be sacked if: “the rider engages in conduct that has the potential to cause adverse publicity, media attention or regulatory scrutiny or which may be detrimental to Uber’s reputation or brand.”

Uber has refused to provide riders with workers’ compensation insurance. Instead, it applies its own insurance with entitlements far below NSW Government’s iCare. Click here for a comparison of the insurance schemes.

The TWU is also taking a landmark case for full compensation against Uber on behalf of the wife and four-year-old son of Dede Fredy, a rider killed in Sydney in September. The test case will be the first against a gig economy company in pursuit of full rights under workers’ compensation.

Hungry Panda riders gear up for a fight for the whole gig economy

Food delivery company Hungry Panda has made cuts to workers’ pay without even informing them of the change. That meant riders were completing deliveries without knowing what their pay rates were. The new contract also stipulated that riders must wear a uniform or face reduced rates of pay. Bizarrely, it also required riders to work for other companies. The move by the company is seemingly similar to that of Uber Eats in attempting to distance itself from an employer relationship.

Delivery rider Yang Jun, who organised a strike against the changes, was then sacked by Hungry Panda. A message on the app merely said that it would “collaborate with you to terminate our co-operative relationship.”

Hungry Panda riders are planning to take further action to protest against the changes.

They shouldn’t have to go up against large multi-national companies. That’s why the Federal Government must implement an independent tribunal to protect gig workers.

In the media:

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