UberEats has announced a shift into grocery delivery, with the Transport Workers’ Union slamming the Federal Government for allowing the unregulated industry to expand and expose more workers to exploitation, injuries, and death.
The trial announced today between UberEats and Woolworths will see delivery drivers completing same-hour groceries deliveries in select suburbs.
Last week, Uber was found to have covered up more than 500 reportable incidents to the NSW regulator, prompting calls for the company to be shut down. Incidents covered up included collisions requiring hospitalisation and alleged sexual assaults.
Last year, UberEats covered up the death of a delivery rider by saying he was not working at the time, despite being logged into the app and continuing to receive order requests after he had died.
UberEats’ appalling model of exploitation has been under the spotlight in recent years, with revelations the company pays workers well below the minimum wage. Low pay forces employees to make as many deliveries in as short a time as possible, increasing the likelihood of injury and death as workers cut corners to meet unrealistic delivery timeframes. Workers face negative reviews and possible termination for failing to meet Uber’s unrealistic timeframes.
As a result of deadly pressure, six UberEats delivery riders were killed on the job in 2020.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said it was disturbing Woolworths had chosen to partner with an exploitative company like Uber: “Partnering with UberEats will only tarnish Woolworths’ reputation and align it with reprehensible exploitation to make a quick buck”.
“Unregulated gig work is making workplaces more dangerous and driving pay through the floor. When Uber’s finished, everyone will be forced to compete for a pittance while mega-wealthy Silicon Valley executives live the high life off the back of employees’ hard work”.
“When the company covers up the death of a delivery rider, it’s clear that Uber doesn’t care whether workers live or die. If past form is anything to go by, expect workers delivering Woolworths’ groceries to be put under enormous pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines. Make no mistake: a same-hour delivery timeframe will mean worker injuries and deaths and Uber will wash its hands of responsibility”.
“Federal Government inaction has allowed companies like Uber and AmazonFlex to run rampant, ripping workers off fair wages without serious penalty. If any other employer behaved like these corporate behemoths, they’d be shut down immediately”.
The TWU has been leading the charge for an independent, Federal body to create and enforce safety, pay and working conditions in the gig economy, as well as to hear dispute between workers and companies.
The regulatory noose appears to be tightening around Uber in other jurisdictions, with a Californian court over the weekend ruling the misclassification of drivers as unconstitutional.
In April, the TWU and its food delivery rider members withdrew from a NSW Government Taskforce set up after a spate of worker deaths over its sustained silencing of riders on exploitation and insistence that regulatory change was ‘beyond scope’.