November 16, 2020


Rideshare drivers earn on average just over $12 an hour after costs with 62% reporting they have experienced verbal or physical assaults and 17% reporting they have been sexually harassed or assaulted, according to a new survey.

The shocking data comes as NSW parliament inquiry hearings into the gig economy continue today with the TWU giving evidence.

Because of the low pay, over one in two rideshare drivers say they struggle to pay bills and buy food, according to the survey by the Transport Workers’ Union and the Rideshare Drivers’ Network. Over 80% they have seen a drop in pay while working for the likes of Uber.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the disturbing treatment of drivers shows the need to regulate:

“Drivers are being ripped off by the likes of Uber and there is nothing to say they can’t do this legally. There is little support if drivers are injured, beaten, sexually assaulted or racially abused. Even during a pandemic as frontline essential workers, companies have no obligation to protect drivers. We do not believe the Australian public agrees with this treatment of workers in Australia,” Kaine said.

“We need regulation to ensure drivers have rights. The Federal Government has consistently refused to even acknowledge that there is a problem in the gig economy, preferring to side with multinational tech giants rather than standing up for workers in Australia. This is impacting our economy, as this low paid, insecure work grows. We commend the efforts of the Victorian Government and the NSW Parliament in pushing for change,” he said.

Malcolm Mackenzie of the Rideshare Drivers’ Network said: “Workers want jobs not ‘gigs’. They want protections against unfair dismissal, when they get assaulted, sick and injured. Jobs can be flexible and at the same time give workers they guarantees and protections they need.”

Other data from the survey shows:

  • 41% of rideshare drivers have been racially abused
  • 29% have been sacked without warning or the right to appeal
  • 50% have been provided with no gloves, masks or sanitizer
  • 67% were not provided any additional safety training
  • 76% were not provided any sick leave or compensation if they had to self-isolate

One respondent reported having her breast grabbed by a passenger, another that a “passenger threatened to shoot me”. Another said they has experienced ““Multiple threats with a knife, multiple grabbing & punching”.

Because of a lack of protections drivers report having to keep driving while sick.

The TWU will argue in the inquiry hearings that “Australia needs the right kind of legislation to regulate the gig economy”.

“Workers don’t need labels, they need rights. Gig economy companies jumped on California’s attempt to regulate them because they worked out a way around the employee label that workers had been given. Australia should learn from this mistake and introduce a flexible system whereby workers can demand rights from an independent tribunal. The TWU has for many decades represented truck drivers who own their own truck, and a similar system has served them well,” said Kaine.

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