25 November 2020

The Transport Workers’ Union’s Michael Kaine: “In just the past two months, five delivery drivers have been killed in Australia – the ones we know of since they are not recorded as workplace deaths. The deaths represent the total failure of a system which never should have been allowed to thrive. It’s a system that denies its workers sick leave, the right to challenge unfair sackings, training, protective gear and insurance. It stands as a blatant contradiction of the working conditions generations of Australians fought for. Riders get no minimum pay and are pushed to work at breakneck speed. Yet they have no right to training or proper protective gear. Multinational corporations such as Uber and Amazon promote themselves as shiny and futuristic. Yet they reap billions the same way their industrialists forefathers did: off the backs of vulnerable, voiceless workers. We’ve allowed their gig economy to quietly establish itself as an unregulated, secondary labour market. … Workers need rights that are enshrined in law and an independent tribunal system that can hear their concerns and give them the benefits and protections they need. In New South Wales independent contractors who own their own trucks have long had access to a system which allows them to band together and demand standards for their work, including rates which cover all the costs of their labour and business. There is nothing impenetrable or futuristic about the exploitative model behind delivery apps. Australians have seen it all before and we can sort it out again with just a modicum of political will.”