This ruling is out of step with rulings by the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, London’s Employment Tribunal and the European Court of Justice which have all backed the right of Uber drivers to have employment rights.
The TWU is calling on the Federal Government to urgently ensure that workers in the on-demand economy are given the rights and protections they are due.
Sadly, the Government has to date shown no interest in addressing these concerns. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared the on-demand economy “exciting” and has stood with companies such as Atlassian which pay no tax in Australia.
The Government’s support for the on-demand industry is holding our country’s future to ransom. The Association for Superannuation Funds of Australia estimates there are 100,000 workers who use web-based platforms for work, with the vast majority receiving much lower superannuation balances than employees. One in every four on-demand economy workers has no superannuation at all.
The Government’s stance is also in contrast to what many academics are warning. Jim Stanford, Economist and director of the Centre for Future Work at The Australia Institute, recently wrote: “While gig employers like to portray themselves as pioneers of innovation, in reality these work practices are as old as capitalism. They were all invented in the early years of industrialisation, as businesses searched for ways to extract labour effort in the new factories and mills, in ways that minimised the cost and risk to employers.”
On a daily basis Uber steals from its drivers, lowering their rates at the whim of an algorithm. It dismisses them arbitrarily, and as this case shows, they have no legal route to challenge this. Drivers deserve to receive work cover, superannuation, annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave and income security. They have none of the protections of a well-functioning society yet bear all the responsibility of a savage and greedy economy, focused solely on making wealthy conglomerates wealthier.