The Transport Workers’ Union has blasted new figures which claim delivery rider injuries have decreased as just more smoke and mirrors, showing the NSW Government is running a public-relations protection racket for the gig companies to avoid regulating the industry.
Both the NSW Government and gig companies have welcomed figures claiming total rider injuries across NSW have decreased 70% over a three-month period, but companies like UberEats have a concerning history of failing to report serious incidents. Last year UberEats covered up the death of a delivery rider killed on the job by claiming he was not working, despite the rider being logged in to Uber’s app and receiving order requests even after he’d died.
Only two weeks ago, it was reported that Uber covered up over 500 reportable incidents, ranging from collisions resulting in injuries, extensive driver fatigue and alleged sexual assaults. In total, the company was fined just $200,000 for 37 breaches only; demonstrating that the NSW Government refuses to hold these companies to account for serious safety and reporting breaches.
Worker exploitation by gig companies is a leading cause of injury among delivery riders who are forced to rush and take risks on the road to meet unrealistic food delivery timeframes. Food delivery riders are paid well below the Minimum Wage, putting additional pressure on riders to make as many deliveries in as short a timeframe as possible.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the figures had zero credibility: “When its well-documented gig companies are covering up collisions, injuries and deaths, these figures aren’t worth the paper they are written on”.
“It’s even more concerning that NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson is singing from the same song book as these companies. The NSW Government is celebrating under-reporting and assisting gig behemoths to sweep deadly pressures under the rug. This makes them complicit in the appalling treatment of workers, implementing measures that target delivery riders while refusing to tackle the exploitation that forces riders to take risks on the job. Anderson’s silence when it was reported Uber covered up over 500 incidents shows whose side he’s really on”.
“These giants are a law unto themselves, and it’s clear that governments are either too scared or too compromised to take them head on. In the meantime, workers are being injured and killed on the road while politicians wilfully look the other way.
“The only practical solution is an independent Federal body with teeth to create and enforce minimum standards and conditions in the industry. It’s the only way to tackle the exploitation placing deadly pressure on these riders”.
In April, the TWU and its food delivery rider members withdrew from a NSW Government Taskforce set up after a spate of worker deaths over its sustained silencing of riders on exploitation and insistence that regulatory change was ‘beyond scope’.
In November, the NSW Government’s own report stated time pressures and low earnings were the two leading causes of unsafe behaviour (Centre for WHS).
Last week, the TWU initiated proceedings in the Fair Work Commission on behalf of a delivery rider who was sacked by Chinese food delivery company EASI for speaking out against safety and conditions in the industry.