April 13, 2023


An agreement between Coles and Uber to partner on grocery deliveries is a powerful opportunity to improve working conditions and entitlements, the Transport Workers Union said today.

The TWU has signed separate agreements with both companies aimed at preventing the abuse of independent contracting to undermine safety, superannuation and income.

“For the last decade we have seen major corporates and multi-nationals abuse their position at the top of the supply chain to exert downward pressure on conditions and income, with the gig economy providing one of the major channels for exploitation,” TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said.

“For the first time, there is now a genuine, constructive opportunity to turn that around and build better working conditions.

“The charters we have already established with both Uber and Coles are industry and union-led and mean that this agreement between the companies will improve income and conditions. All of this positive energy is set to be buttressed by Tony Burke’s intention to empower the Fair Work Commission to set fair standards for transport workers and ensure employee-like workers have appropriate protections.

“Both Coles and Uber enter this agreement with eyes wide open that it will improve rather than degrade working conditions. Today’s announcement is evidence that the tide is turning against gig exploitation, in a powerful way.”

The Coles & TWU Supply Chain & Fairness Charter states that for on demand work “concerns continue to be raised in Australia and around the world relating to the rights and protections or individuals performing these tasks.” 

It commits both parties to work together to ensure people performing such work are not deprived of appropriate payment, entitlements, superannuation, safe working conditions and representation.

A separate joint statement of principles between Uber and the TWU commits both parties to support the Federal Government legislating an independent body, with the capacity to: “…set minimum and transparent enforceable earnings and benefits/conditions for platform workers based on the principle of cost recovery, taking into account the nature of the work.”

A recent landmark report into the gig economy by the McKell Institute found more than 90 per cent want the federal government to better regulate the industry.

The report estimated as many as 112,000 Australian workers could be earning less than minimum wage, including more than half of all food delivery workers.

“Today’s announcement is a potential breakthrough for embedding decency at the heart of on-demand work. A major company like Coles would only take this step because it was confident that core industry standards will be upheld,” Michael Kaine said.

“We will monitor this hawkishly to make sure it lives up to its potential.” 

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