December 10, 2021


The Transport Workers’ Union has demanded the Federal Government urgently regulate the gig economy to end the deadly exploitation of workers, as the European Union proposes laws to give workers minimum rights and protections.

The proposals would end the deliberate misclassification of gig workers, setting out minimum wages, entitlements and unfair dismissal protections for an estimated 4.1 million workers across Europe.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said where other jurisdictions were racing ahead to rein in gig behemoths, Australia hadn’t even gotten to the starting blocks.

“These proposals are a monumental step forward in the global fight to end systemic worker exploitation in the gig economy. The European Union’s proposals show it’s possible to give workers in the gig economy flexibility, without ripping them off fair pay and decent conditions”.

“The EU’s shown the bravery workers in Australia have been crying out for for years, only to be continually let down by governments refusing to stand up to these gig behemoths. Scott Morrison has disgracefully refused to lift a finger as the gig cycle of abuse, cover ups, injuries and deaths keeps on spinning”.

“Australia used to be the country of the fair go. But as other countries tackle these companies head on, we are instead becoming a haven for gig worker exploitation”.

“The Federal Government must pull its head out of the sand and recognise just how dangerous the gig tsunami bearing down on workers really is. Workers need an independent tribunal to set and enforce minimum standards. Only then will we begin to turn the tide on gig exploitation and stop these companies deliberately misclassifying work to rake in their deadly profits”.

The gig model of exploitation is built around underpaying workers minimum rates. In transport, gig workers are under deadly pressure to make as many deliveries in as short a period as possible, or they risk being terminated by their employers. This pressure incentivises risk taking and increases the likelihood of serious injury or death.

Last year, seven food delivery workers were killed on the job. In one case, Uber tried to cover up the death by claiming the rider killed wasn’t working for the company at the time of his death, even though he was logged into the app and receiving orders when he was fatally struck.

In April, the TWU and its food delivery rider members withdrew from a shambolic 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’.

The TWU has taken several cases against gig economy companies and is currently fighting an appeal from Deliveroo over the unfair sacking of rider Diego Franco.

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