The Transport Workers’ Union is demanding an independent investigation into why SafeWork NSW has failed to use its power to shutdown Uber over the deaths of at least eight food delivery riders in just three years.
Today, details emerged of a fourth UberEats rider killed last year which the tech giant covered up by claiming he wasn’t working because he wasn’t on a delivery. The rider, Burak Doğan, was logged into the app when struck by a truck in April 2020 and continued to receive order requests from Uber after he died.
SafeWork NSW’s review said it was “unclear” whether the rider was working at the time. The TWU is calling for the case to be readdressed and investigated as a workplace death as part of the independent investigation into SafeWork.
The TWU is also calling on the Federal Government to urgently adopt the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry into Job Security tabled in parliament yesterday, including that “all road crashes involving on-demand workers be officially recognised as workplace incidents and are recorded and investigated as such.”
Burak’s family were refused any compensation from Uber because he was killed 10 minutes over the insurance scheme’s prescribed 15-minute window following the completion of an order.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the NSW Government must undertake the investigation to prevent more workers being killed and injured.
“Uber’s death toll has reached a staggering eight workers killed in just three years. If this was any other company, there would be an uproar in parliament and demands that operations be suspended until workers’ safety is guaranteed. Instead, SafeWork NSW has continuously conceded to Uber’s wishes: by swallowing their lies that Burak Doğan was not working when he was killed and by silencing riders’ concerns about deadly exploitation throughout the Taskforce investigation into rider deaths.
“The uncovering of Burak’s tragic death reveals a strategic cover up by Uber through a deceitfully narrow definition of when a rider is working. It begs the question: how many other deaths has Uber brushed under the carpet and SafeWork failed to investigate?
“Burak Doğan’s family have been aggrieved twice over, first by the devastating loss of a loved one and second by Uber’s deliberate evasion of accountability and refusal to pay compensation.
“The NSW Government’s appalling response to a spate of rider deaths last year has so far been to blame and punish riders. This is an opportunity for the government to show that it cares about riders being killed and will hold tech giants to account by ensuring its safety regulator is doing its job,” Kaine said.
In April, the TWU and riders withdrew from the NSW Government Taskforce over its continued silencing of concerns about deadly exploitation and the need for regulation.
On 5 June, NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson announced ‘tough new laws’ which include monitoring food delivery riders with police-issued ID numbers and punishing them with fines in police blitzes.
A TWU poll showed 84 per cent of riders believe the new laws will make their work more dangerous. Three in four riders said they had to buy cheap rather than safe equipment like helmets because of low pay.
UberEats riders killed in a three-year period:
1. Julien Trameaux 2017
2. Kuan Wei “Bill” Chen 2019
3. Su Po Hsu 2019
4. Chin Kim Pei 2019
5. Dede Fredy 2020
6. Bijoy Paul 2020
7. Ik Wong 2020
8. Burak Doğan 2020