A food delivery rider will take Deliveroo to court today in a test case for the gig economy after he was sacked without warning at the height of the pandemic.
The Fair Work Commission case is the first of its kind against Deliveroo and follows victory for a rider and the TWU in a similar case against Foodora in 2018. Foodora subsequently exited the Australian market.
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 the case would be a major test for the gig economy.
“Diego is bravely standing up against one of the biggest gig economy companies in the world after getting sacked without warning at the height of the pandemic with a wife and baby to support. This abuse and exploitation must stop because it is hurting workers and dragging our economy down. We believe this case could have significant implications for the gig economy in Australia and, with the absence of Federal Government regulation in this sector, this is a way to hold companies to account,” he said.
“Riders are constantly getting sacked without warning, they have no minimum rates, no guaranteed wages, no right to sick leave even during the pandemic and no adequate insurance cover if they get injured or killed while working. This is the type of work which is included in ABS ’employment’ statistics, yet these aren’t jobs and the workers have no rights. This is not a good basis to build your economy on and lowers labour standards to a Dickensian level. Riders are fighting for rights but the Federal Government is refusing to help them,” Kaine added.
A survey of delivery riders last month showed average earnings after costs was 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. The pandemic has left the essential workers exposed with more than half saying they did not have enough masks, gloves and sanitiser.
More than one in three riders has been injured on the job, with the vast majority (80%) receiving no support from their company. Two Sydney delivery riders were killed in the last month.
The TWU is separately taking a case for gross underpayment against Deliveroo and is appealing a Fair Work Commission ruling on UberEats over an unfair sacking.
The Victorian Government is examining feedback on recommendations from an inquiry into the gig economy, which includes regulation of the sector. A separate inquiry has been set up by the NSW parliament.