The Transport Workers’ Union has urged the NSW Coroner to proceed with inquests into the deaths of all delivery riders killed in 2020, following the launch of reviews into whether formal investigations of four rider deaths should take place. The union says inquests should be undertaken to inform preventative measures to eradicate the deadly pressures on food delivery riders, and must be expanded to include the horrific unreported death of Burak Dogan.
The TWU’s calls come as food delivery riders and family of a rider killed gather in Sydney today to hold a vigil outside the NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office. They will be joined by Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Tony Burke MP.
Deputy State Coroner Magistrate Lee is currently considering whether to investigate the circumstances leading to the tragic deaths of UberEats riders Dede Fredy, Bijoy Paul and Ik Wong, and Hungry Panda’s Xiaojun Chen. All four riders were killed in road collisions while working in Sydney. None had access to proper training, insurance or company-provided safety equipment because our archaic system provides no rights to workers not classified as employees.
The TWU says a fifth inquest should take place after it was last year revealed the death of Burak Dogan was not reported as a workplace death by UberEats which claimed he wasn’t working at the time, despite being logged in and receiving orders after he was killed.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said these deaths should never have happened and investigations are long overdue.
“NSW Coronial Inquests would shine a spotlight on the deadly pressures on food delivery riders. Industrial pressures remain to this day and any finding that these pressures contributed to the deaths of these riders should ring alarm bells in Parliament and inform regulation to prevent worker deaths in the future”.
“The families of riders’ killed continue to grapple with the indescribable loss of their loved one and deserve answers. That’s why these inquests must proceed. Under scrutiny from the Coroner, gig companies and governments which have failed to listen to riders will have nowhere to hide. However, any inquests must be expanded to include the shocking death of Burak Dogan if there is to be a full-throated and thorough investigation into the system of exploitation killing workers.
“Riders have told us the pandemic has only made their jobs more dangerous, and little has been done to clean up the industry. In fact, the NSW State Government sided with gig giants to target riders forced to rush rather than standing with them in the fight to end the very exploitation making the industry so deadly in the first place”
“Their counterparts in Canberra are missing in action. When the going gets tough and workers are being slaughtered on our roads, Scott Morrison is nowhere to be seen. There is an insecure work crisis smashing worker safety in this country, and yet the Prime Minister won’t even adopt clear recommendations from a landmark Senate report to fix it. This abject failure of national leadership has consequences: people are dying because of Scott Morrison’s failure to listen.
“Riders need the Federal Government to introduce an independent body to create enforceable standards for all workers regardless of their employment classification. Only then will we have a robust system of standards that can end this devastating carnage on our roads.
The gig model of exploitation is built around ripping workers off fair pay and safe conditions to maximise profit. In transport, gig workers are under deadly pressure to make as many deliveries in as short a period as possible, to make enough money and avoid termination. This pressure incentivises risk taking and increases the likelihood of serious injury or death.