The Transport Workers’ Union has slammed the Federal Government’s refusal to provide uniform regulatory protections for food delivery workers after a shocking revelation that a seventh food delivery worker was killed last year but not reported by DoorDash.
This tragic death brings the total number of food delivery workers killed on the job in 2020 to seven. Two were working for DoorDash, four for UberEats and one for Hungry Panda.
DoorDash told a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry the 27 year old worker was killed in September last year and contact with the worker’s family ceased after preliminary contact. The company could not provide further information about the circumstances leading to the worker’s death – including whether they were covered by DoorDash’s insurance policy at the time of death – and alleged the incident only came to its attention in recent weeks after an audit in preparation for the Inquiry.
It is the second death not publicly disclosed by a gig company last year, after UberEats hid the death of Burak Dogan by claiming he was not working at the time of his death, despite being logged into the app and receiving orders after being killed.
Last week, SafeWork NSW claimed reportable incidents had dropped significantly over a three-month period between April and June 2021, despite clear evidence showing that gig companies repeatedly fail to meet their reporting obligations. Uber was recently found to have failed to report over 500 notifiable incidents including alleged assaults and hospitalisations.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said this latest death showed the failures of inconsistent reporting requirements across the country which means gig companies are picking and choosing when to disclose worker death information: “We extend our deepest sympathies to the family of this worker. It’s outrageous it’s taken almost a year for the company to publicly disclose this information, and the worker’s family deserves far better”.
“These companies don’t know whether their workers are alive or dead, and you have to question whether they even care. Failing to acknowledge or report that a worker has been killed while working for you shows just how little respect gig companies have for the safety of their drivers and riders.”
“If any other industry had as many covered up deaths and injuries as food delivery, there would be a public outcry and those companies would be run out of town. These giants get away with it because the Federal Government is missing in action and reporting obligations are not uniform across the country.”
“Workers are dying in the pursuit of profit and the Federal Government is a silent bystander as the horror unfolds. We need urgent intervention here: the Federal Government needs to regulate gig work to address the exploitation that’s killing workers on the job and compel gig companies operating in Australia to meet strict uniform safety standards and reporting obligations so workers can go home at the end of every shift.”
The exploitative gig company business model routinely pays workers well below the National Minimum Wage, forcing delivery drivers and riders to take risks on the road to make as many trips in as short a time as possible just to make a liveable wage. This exploitation greatly increases the likelihood a worker will be injured or killed on the job.
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’.