August 21, 2021


The Transport Workers’ Union has urged the Federal Government to regulate the gig economy after Uber was found to have covered up over 500 safety breaches in NSW and a California Superior Court Judge ruled a law allowing the misclassification and restriction of rights of gig workers unconstitutional.

Michael Kaine TWU National Secretary said the drawn out battle for gig workers’ rights in California proves why regulation in Australia must happen urgently and in the right way.

“Uber will be recorking the champagne today. The California ruling declares a sham law forced through by Uber’s $200 million crusade is unconstitutional and unenforceable. It comes days after Uber was exposed for failing to report over 500 safety incidents in NSW and weeks after it was found to have covered up the death of a food delivery rider killed last year.

“Gig workers facing the most severe effects of economic downturn will be invigorated by major court wins this year, including the crucial UK Supreme Court ruling that Uber drivers are workers and have rights.

“Unlike legislators around the world, the NSW Government has proven it is firmly in Uber’s corner and will not hold the tech giant to account for worker abuses or deadly practices. Miniscule fines of $200,000 issued for just 37 of over 500 safety breaches which Uber failed to report is more of an endorsement than it is a deterrent.

“We’ve seen the extreme measures Uber will take to disguise its exploitation as innovation, including spending millions on political lobbying and covering up serious injuries and even deaths. The right regulation is the only solution to prevent Uber moving the goal posts to evade legislation. Rather than allowing a costly game of chess like we’ve seen in California, Australia must put in place a tribunal with full powers to regulate on gig workers’ rights regardless of the moves Uber makes to evade them,” he said.

The TWU has taken several cases against gig economy companies and is currently fighting an appeal from Deliveroo over the unfair sacking of rider Diego Franco.

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.

The TWU won an unfair dismissal case involving Melbourne delivery rider Josh Klooger against Foodora in 2018. The company subsequently left Australia and was forced to pay millions in underpaid wages and non-payment of superannuation to its workers.

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