The widow of a food delivery rider killed in Sydney who has been left without compensation will give evidence today at a NSW parliamentary inquiry on work in the gig economy.
Lihong Wei is visiting Australia from China for her husband Xiaojun Chen’s funeral after his death while working in Sydney last month for Hungry Panda. His company Hungry Panda has no insurance for its workers so Ms Wei, her two children and elderly parents are left without any income.
Food delivery riders and rideshare drivers will also give evidence at the inquiry.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine urged the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry to listen to Ms Wei’s evidence of how gig economy workers are abused and to recommend regulation of the sector.
“Lihong Wei has not only lost her husband but she is now having to fight for compensation to save her and her family for poverty. Her case shows the utter disregard for gig economy workers, whose companies do not have to provide insurance if they are killed or injured on the job, who are not provided with minimum pay, sick leave or even the right to challenge an unfair sacking. This is exploitation and abuse Dickensian-style,” he said.
“The Federal Government has refused to step in and stop this abuse of workers in Australia, preferring instead to side with billion-dollar tech companies which have deliberately structured their businesses to get around our labour laws. The Victorian government is moving ahead to act in the absence of federal regulation and we are hopeful that when the NSW Parliament hears evidence from Lihong Wei and riders today, it will also act and regulate this sector,” Kaine said.
The TWU is assisting Ms Wei in examining ways to access compensation following the death of her husband.
The TWU took Deliveroo to court last week over the wage theft of a rider. The TWU is also fighting a case over a food delivery rider sacked unfairly by Deliveroo and is appealing a case over unfair sacking against UberEats. The TWU is assisting delivery riders in pursuing Deliveroo on its obligations under workplace health and saftey 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. Two Sydney delivery riders including Xiaojun Chen and a Melbourne were killed in the last month.