The families of two UberEats food delivery riders killed in Sydney in 2020 have launched workers compensation proceedings in NSW. The TWU says the cases demonstrate why workers compensation schemes must be overhauled to unequivocally cover gig companies and prevent more families going through the same traumatic struggle.
Dede Fredy and Bijoy Paul were among seven food delivery workers killed while making food deliveries for gig companies in 2020. Both were killed in road incidents in Sydney.
Outdated laws have meant food delivery riders are denied access to basic entitlements like minimum rates of pay, sick and annual leave, and superannuation. Workers are paid low piece rates with no rights and are under deadly pressure to rush, work long hours and avoid raising safety concerns as they have no job security.
While the TWU has been calling for the Federal Government to introduce an independent tribunal to set enforceable standards for all transport workers, it says workers compensation schemes overseen by State and Territory Governments should also be expanded to apply to and require financial contribution from gig companies.
Earlier this year, gig company Hungry Panda settled a similar workers compensation action brought by the family of rider Xiaojun Chen. The settlement came with recognition that Chen was an employee at the time of his death for the purposes of workers compensation, entitling his family to an approximate $830,000 compensation package.
Shimu Paul – the sister of Mr Paul – said: “My family and I are still suffering. Bijoy was the only son of my parents and was working to support our family. My parents deserve justice so that nobody is forced to go through the pain we feel”.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine praised the riders’ families but said the industry urgently needed to change.
“These brave families deserve justice. No amount of financial compensation will ever truly heal their heartache, but receiving the same support as any other worker’s family would go a long way towards righting a terrible wrong”.
“If these riders were killed in any other workplace, there’d be no question as to whether the loved ones they’ve left behind should receive the proper amounts of compensation. The problem is that out-dated industrial laws and loopholes in compensation schemes leave it to the families of gig workers to fight through archaic legal processes for justice.
“We must change the way the system operates. An independent Federal body would create enforceable standards to ease the pressures leading to these shocking incidents, but we shouldn’t stop there. States and Territory Governments must expand workers compensation schemes to expressly cover workers in the gig economy so families shouldn’t be forced to jump through legal hoops at a time they’re mourning their loved ones.
“An industrial system that is black and white while the future of work explodes into colour just doesn’t cut it. Only by expanding these systems will workers and their families confidence they’ll return home safely after a day on the road, and ensure an appropriate safety net when things go wrong” Kaine said.
Uber recently signed a Statement of Principles with the TWU, agreeing to work collaboratively to call for a standard-setting body to level the playing field and make both food delivery and rideshare work safer and more sustainable.