The TWU’s test case against Deliveroo for the unfair sacking of delivery rider Diego Franco will conclude today at its final hearing at the Fair Work Commission. Diego Franco was sacked without warning in April at the height of the pandemic.
The case is the first of its kind against Deliveroo and follows a Dutch ruling last week that found Deliveroo riders are employees, followed by a UK Supreme Court ruling on Friday that Uber drivers are workers and have rights.
Diego’s case also follows a victory for a rider and the TWU in a similar unfair dismissal case against Foodora in 2018. Foodora subsequently exited the Australian market. On Friday the TWU launched two unfair dismissal cases against Hungry Panda over the unfair sacking of two delivery riders for protesting over a pay cut.
In December Uber settled a case involving the sacking of an Adelaide delivery driver who was 10 minutes late with an order. The Federal Court appeared to be poised to rule against the company as it savaged its business model and attempts to deny any relationship to its workers.
Rider Diego Franco was sacked by Deliveroo in April after working for the company for three years, forcing him, his wife and baby to struggle financially. Deliveroo said it sacked him because of slow deliveries without giving a warning or specifying where or when the problem arose.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said after the international rulings, this case would be a major test for the gig economy in Australia.
“Deliveroo removed the income of a young father with no warning and no right of reply in the middle of a pandemic. Diego had received no prior feedback from Deliveroo and was shut out of the app with no explanation about the orders they say he took too long to deliver. The NSW Government’s Taskforce set up following the tragic deaths of five food delivery riders has said riders are under unrealistic time pressures to deliver food, causing a risk to their safety. Deliveroo should not be fighting this case but apologising to Diego and his family and ensuring its riders are working within safe parameters.
“The reprehensible behaviour of gig economy companies that pay below minimum wage and refuse workers’ rights is being challenged by brave workers like Diego and unions in Australia and around the world. Following international rulings that gig economy workers are entitled to rights that are not being met, the Australian Government must catch up and regulate with a tribunal to set minimum rights and protections for all workers.
“The Federal Government has proved this week it is willing to take on major tech firms like Google and Facebook in an effort to regulate them. It should apply the same determination towards Uber, Deliveroo and others and protect workers in Australia,” Kaine said.
The TWU along with rideshare drivers and food delivery riders will visit Parliament House in Canberra this week and will raise the UK Supreme Court ruling with politicians across the political divide.
A survey of delivery riders last year showed average earnings after costs were just over $10 an hour while almost 90% have seen their pay decrease and 70% say they are struggling to pay bills and buy food.
More than one in three riders has been injured on the job, with the vast majority (80%) receiving no support from their company.