The Senate must pass lifesaving transport reform as soon as Parliament resumes following the devastating news of a 15th food delivery rider death which has gone unreported for more than a year, said the Transport Workers’ Union.
Along with the previously unreported death, data obtained by The Age from the Victorian Police has revealed 917 injuries in seven years, with rates rising to an average of 150 food delivery rider injuries a year over the last four years in the state. Of those injured, 69% were motorcyclists, with the remaining riding bicycles. Food delivery drivers using cars were not included in the data.
A 29-year-old food delivery rider on an electric bicycle died on the evening of 18thNovember 2022 in Preston, though his death went under the radar until today. Since his death, four more transport gig workers have been killed within 12 months.
The TWU said the absence of rights and entitlements like minimum wage and protection against unfair contract terminations puts deadly pressure on workers to rush and take risks on the road to earn enough money and retain their jobs.
The TWU has urged the Senate to act on this devastating update by passing reform to set enforceable minimum standards without further delay. The legislation has received broad support across the industry, including from gig companies Uber, DoorDash, and Menulog.
The TWU Vic/Tas Branch had a motion passed at the ALP State Conference earlier this year to require gig platforms to contribute to the Victorian workers’ compensation scheme and deem that their independent contractor workers are eligible.
A 2023 McKell study of over 1,100 transport gig workers revealed 56% of food delivery riders feel pressured to rush, while one in four had experienced their accounts being deactivated. Of those working full-time, two-thirds earned less than minimum wage.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said:
“We’re devastated to learn of this tragic loss of another food delivery rider, as well as the hundreds that have suffered injuries in Melbourne.
“This is horrific data but tragically not surprising. While unreported deaths and injuries of transport gig workers are beginning to come to light across more states, deadly pressures to make a living persist in an unregulated industry.
“These injured workers have no access to rights like minimum wage, sick leave, or protections against unfair termination. Enforceable standards are the only way to reverse the lethal race against time for these low-paid workers who need to complete as many orders as possible to earn enough and avoid algorithm warnings of deactivation.
“A system to set fair, safe, and sustainable minimum standards is currently before the Senate. There must be no further delay to this lifesaving reform being passed into law. Lives and limbs depend on it,” he said.