The TWU has slammed Uber for forcing food delivery riders to sign onto new terms and conditions on 1 March which heap further pressure on riders and gags them from speaking out about their pay and conditions.
The new contract, sent to food delivery riders on Wednesday, attempts to distance Uber from responsibility including for injury or damage suffered by riders, stating that riders should take out their own workers’ compensation insurance. Riders can also have their pay revoked if a customer complaint is received, without right of reply. Meanwhile, Uber maintains the right to unilaterally alter the terms of the agreement at any time.
The contract also states that a rider can be immediately terminated if “the rider engages in conduct that has the potential to cause adverse publicity, media attention or regulatory scrutiny or which may be detrimental to Uber’s reputation or brand.”
The move follows the settlement of an unfair dismissal case after the Federal Court savaged Uber’s business model. The Federal Court judges berated Uber during the hearing when the company refused to accept that it was involved in transport, denied it had any relationship to its drivers and even stated that the link was so tenuous that drivers could abandon or steal the food orders.
The contract contains a number of terms which seek to guard against a finding of workers as employees, such as the requirement of an ABN, the ability for riders to delegate a delivery to another rider, and asserts that riders can engage in any other business, including business in competition with Uber at any time whilst logged into the app.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine says the Federal Government should act to prevent Uber sinking even lower to exploit workers.
“Uber is rightly afraid that its sham contracting days are numbered in Australia. After the Federal Court savaged Uber in December, this move reeks of desperation to shore up a business model which relies on exploitation and the refusal to pay workers minimum wage, or give rights like protection against unfair dismissal and workers compensation.
“The contract’s gag order that prevents workers from speaking out in any way that may lead to “regulatory scrutiny” is appalling and shows that Uber is well aware that it imposes working conditions far below the standards expected in Australia. We’re calling on the Federal Government to examine this and intervene if the clause is found to contravene the Fair Work Act.
“Uber’s intention is to sit back and count their money while transferring all the risk onto underpaid riders sweating on the streets under unrealistic time pressures that are endangering their lives.
“It is abhorrent that Uber’s response to five food delivery riders killed in Australia last year is an attempt to distance itself from accountability and silence riders.
“The Federal Government must urgently act to stop Uber going to these great lengths to keep underpaying and mistreating workers. We need a tribunal in place to investigate this industry and set appropriate protections and rights so that this valuable work can be performed safely and with workers paid a decent wage,” Kaine said.
The TWU is taking a landmark case for full compensation against Uber on behalf of the wife and four-year-old son of Dede Fredy, a rider killed in Sydney in September.
The claim has been filed against NSW workers compensation insurer iCare and Uber and will be pursued in a test case at the Workers Compensation Commission. Such a test case will be the first ever brought against a gig economy company in pursuit of full rights under workers’ compensation.
Five delivery riders died while working in September and October. This prompted the NSW government to set up a taskforce. The Victorian Government is examining feedback following a report into an inquiry into the gig economy which recommended regulation of the sector. The TWU has met and written to Attorney General and Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter asking the Federal Government to implement a tribunal that would protect gig economy workers.
Media enquiries: Pippa Hatton 0418 982 257