February 20, 2021


The TWU is urging the Federal Government to regulate the gig economy following a UK ruling last night that Uber drivers are workers.

The UK Supreme Court said Uber exercised control over its workers by unilaterally setting contract terms, pay rates and by monitoring them through the ratings system. The court said drivers should be considered working not only while driving passengers but while logged onto the app.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said Australia was being left behind and urged the Federal Government to regulate.

“This ruling from the UK is unequivocal and has huge implications for Australian law: gig economy workers have rights. We call upon the Federal Government to urgently act upon this ruling and legislate now to recognise the rights of rideshare drivers and food delivery riders.

“The rest of the world is leaving Australia behind while our laws remain out of date. The need to regulate is urgent with delivery riders dying on the roads and rideshare drivers being ripped off. Our aim is for regulation to put in place an independent tribunal to give workers the rights and protections they need.”

“The Federal Government has proved this week it is willing to take on major tech firms like Google and Facebook in an effort to regulate them. It should apply the same determination towards Uber, Deliveroo and others and protect workers in Australia,” he said.

The TWU along with rideshare drivers and food delivery riders will visit Parliament House in Canberra this week and will raise the UK ruling with politicians across the political divide.

The TWU is taking several cases against gig economy companies, including:

  • Two cases filed yesterday against Hungry Panda over the unfair sacking of Sydney riders who took strike action over cuts to pay
  • A case for unfair sacking involving rider Diego Franco, sacked by Deliveroo without warning. A final hearing in the case is before the Fair Work Commission on Monday
  • A case for gross underpayment against Deliveroo.

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.

In December Uber settled a case involving the sacking of an Adelaide delivery driver who was 10 minutes late with an oder. 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.

Surveys have shows:

Food delivery riders earn as little as $5 per delivery

  • 70% say they are struggling to pay bills and buy food
  • More than one in three has been injured on the job, with the vast majority (80%) receiving no support from their company.

Ridershare drivers earn an average of $12 an hour

    • 17% have been sexually harassed or assaulted by passengers
    • 85% said their wages had decreased while working in the gig economy.
    • 36% had been involved in a car accident while working

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