TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 16 September, 2019
The Transport Workers’ Union is taking a case against global gig economy giant Uber, as the union appeals a decision by the Fair Work Commission in an unfair sacking case involving a food delivery driver.
The case highlights severe exploitation in the online food delivery industry with an Adelaide-based driver Amita Gupta logged on to work for UberEats for 96 hours one week but only receiving pay of $300. When she was 10 minutes late with a delivery she was sacked. Amita and her husband Santosh revealed details of the underpayment and unfair sacking in Sydney today.
It is the latest case taken by the TWU against gig economy companies to establish rights for workers. The TWU announced a case for gross underpayment against Deliveroo and won a case for unfair sacking against Foodora after the company sacked a rider for speaking out about pay and conditions. Foodora has since exited the Australian market.
“This case highlights just how low Uber can go in terms of abusing workers. They expect workers to be logged on for hours with no work and if they are a few minutes late they get sacked, with no warning or right to appeal. These drivers have chosen to take a stand, demand their rights and take on Uber. We believe the Fair Work Commission’s decision to refuse their case for unfair sacking was wrong and we believe there are strong grounds to appeal it,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
“We again appeal to the Federal Government to intervene in this case to ensure all workers in Australia have rights. We also appeal to the Government to regulate the gig economy. It cannot be left any longer to individuals to take on these cashed-up Silicon Valley behemoths, dragging them through the courts. Gig economy workers must be given rights to guaranteed minimum rates, sick leave, adequate workers’ compensation when they are injured on the job, the right to collectively bargain and the right to challenge an unfair sacking. California last week stepped up and gave these rights to workers, why can’t the Australian government do the same?” he said.
A TWU survey of food delivery riders in Australia shows three out of every four are paid below minimum rates. Almost 50% of riders had either been injured on the job or knew someone who had. Three UberEats riders have been killed while working.
An investigation by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission forced UberEats to admit it is a transport operator, not a technology platform, in contracts with restaurants and to stop making restaurants pay for customer refunds.
Uber has posted massive losses of $US5.24 billion this year. Ahead of its public sale in May, the company disclosed it expects operating expenses to “increase significantly in the foreseeable future” and that it “may not achieve profitability”.
In March, the ABC revealed that Uber had used spyware to hack into rival rideshare companies, to steal data on their drivers so they could lure them over to Uber. The company also used to spyware to close down accounts of government investigators who were monitoring the company’s illegal operations when it arrived in Australia in 2014.
In May rideshare drivers in Australia took part in a day of global protest against Uber while food delivery riders delivered an invoice to Uber offices in Sydney for unpaid wages and superannuation.
This year almost 1,700 Foodora riders received back-pay totalling nearly $2.3 million after Foodora was forced to admit it was underpaying their wages and refusing them superannuation following audits by the ATO and Revenue NSW.
Photo Caption: TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine announces case against Uber. Bottom photo: Santosh Gupta (speaking) and Amita Gupta explain how they were underpaid and unfairly sacked by Uber