November 24, 2020


The Transport Workers’ Union is calling for the Federal Government to investigate Uber and other food delivery companies following the death of a second rider in three days.

Five riders have died since late September. None had the right to training, proper protective gear or insurance.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said workers were being killed through lack of rights and the Federal Government must intervene.

“Companies like Uber do not care whether their workers live or die so long as the food gets delivered on time. That is clear from the lack of training and protective gear for riders. It’s also clear in the way companies like Uber harass their riders and threaten them with sacking if they are even a few minutes late,” he said.

“Food delivery riders are literally dying because of the Federal Government’s inaction. Despite five deaths in recent weeks and two deaths in just three days the Federal Government is refusing to take responsibility. The law has not kept up and is failing to protect workers. It is no longer an option for the Federal Government and the states to pass the buck between them, we need action now,” Kaine said.

“As a matter of urgency we want the Federal Government to investigate the safety measures Uber and other companies have in place for their riders and whether they meet workplace standards. But the Federal Government now must begin looking at regulating these companies and putting in place an independent tribunal which workers can turn to for the rights and protections they need,” he said.

Bijoy Paul, Dede Fredy, Xiaojun Chen and Chow Khai Shien were the other riders killed recently.

Lihong Wei, the widow of Mr Chen and his two children have been left without compensation and she gave evidence at a NSW parliamentary inquiry on the gig economy earlier this month. The TWU is assisting Ms Wei in examining ways to access compensation following the death of her husband.

The TWU and former Deliveroo rider Diego Franco were in the Fair Work Commission yesterday fighting an unfair sacking by the company. Deliveroo say they sacked Mr Franco because he didn’t go fast enough with his deliveries.

On Friday the TWU will fight UberEats in the Federal Court over an Adelaide delivery driver sacked for being 10 minutes late.

The TWU is also assisting delivery riders in pursuing Deliveroo on its obligations under workplace heathy and safety laws.

The TWU won a case for unfair sacking against Foodora in 2018.

A survey of delivery riders in September showed average earnings after costs was just over $10 an hour while almost 90% have seen their pay decrease and 70% say they are struggling to pay bills and buy food.

The pandemic has left the essential workers exposed with more than half saying they did not have enough masks, gloves and sanitiser.

More than one in three riders has been injured on the job, with the vast majority (80%) receiving no support from their company.

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