The Transport Workers’ Union has today initiated proceedings in the Fair Work Commission on behalf of a food delivery rider sacked by Chinese food delivery company EASI after he sounded alarm bells about worker safety.
Lawrence Du was sacked by EASI after two months early August after encouraging riders to share concerns about safety and working conditions. After reaching out to fellow riders, EASI management called Lawrence a “fraud” and described messages sent by Lawrence to others about safety “a scam”.
EASI is a Chinese food delivery company servicing exclusively for Chinese consumers in major cities in Australia and around the world. Workers are required to pay $400 upfront to begin delivering for EASI and the company runs strict rostering – including when lunch and dinner breaks can be taken – to control when and how delivery riders worked. Riders will also be terminated if they are found to be working for other delivery companies.
A recent TWU snap survey of EASI riders and drivers found that one-in-three had been injured on the job, and none had received financial support or compensation from the company. Almost three quarters reported being treated unfairly by EASI in the course of their employment. Close to 30% had had their pay docked unfairly by the company.
Two in three EASI workers said they had been forced to work faster, longer and take more risks because of low pay. Shockingly, 40% reported their average weekly earnings were less than $15 an hour, well below the National Minimum Wage.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said Lawrence’s case was another example of the desperate need for Federal regulation of the gig economy: “When a company can unilaterally sack a worker because they are standing up for safety, you know there’s something fundamentally wrong with our industrial laws”.
“These gig corporations sow exploitation and reap enormous profits as a result. Companies like EASI deliberately rip workers off a fair wage to force them to make more deliveries at the cheapest possible rate. It’s a race to the bottom that is seeing more workers injured on the job”.
“The real reason EASI can wash its hands of responsibility is because the Federal Government’s stuck it’s fingers in its ears and is refusing to listen. It won’t take responsibility or step up to fix the problem. Delivery riders need an independent body to create and enforce minimum workplace pay and safety standards and hold companies like EASI to account for doing the wrong thing”.
The TWU is also currently pursuing Deliveroo in the Federal Court after it appealed an unfair dismissal case won by delivery rider Diego Franco. In 2018, the union won an unfair dismissal case on behalf of Foodora rider, Josh Klooger. In 2021, the TWU and delivery riders from Hungry Panda achieved a historic win securing pay increases, insurance and the reinstatement of two sacked riders who had protested over pay cuts at the company.
Last year, six delivery riders were killed on the job in Australia.
Comments attributable to Lawrence Du:
“When I first started at EASI I was shocked by the company’s appalling business practices. The company pays all its delivery workers below minimum wage, provides no safety for workers, bullies people and terminates anyone who raises an issue. When I tried to speak to other workers and the TWU about these issues – EASI called me a scammer and I was terminated straight away”