Connect with us


Union Organizing and Gig-Economy Workers



Michael Saltsman asserts that most gig workers are trying to “avoid being locked into regular jobs” (“Unions Seek to ‘Liberate’ Gig Workers From Flexibility,” op-ed, Sept. 5). As a frequent rider on Uber and Lyft, I find that most drivers work for the ride-hailing services as second jobs or as a way to earn money when between jobs. The idea that people would prefer gig jobs with no benefits to a union job with health insurance, paid time off and a retirement plan is absurd.

With regard to bargaining power partners, many members…

Source link


The family of a delivery rider who died on the job is calling for a gig economy overhaul




It took more than three weeks before the family of Chow Khai Shien were finally able to lay him to rest in Malaysia. 

“My mom just cannot accept that he passed away in a foreign country, that he passed away alone,” his sister Kai Sing Chow told SBS News from Singapore. 

“We have not seen him for a year because of the pandemic, he had plans to return home to Malaysia next January.” 

Mr Chow, 36, died in late October after a crash in Melbourne’s CBD while he was delivering food on a motor scooter. 

He is one of five delivery riders who have died on the job in Australia in the past two months. The Transport Workers’ Union has described the spate of deaths as a “crisis of national importance”.  

Hampered by COVID-19 travel restrictions, Mr Chow’s family held a virtual funeral in Melbourne, organised by his lone relative in the country, a cousin.  His ashes were then sent to Malaysia. 

Mr Chow had dreams of owning a restaurant with his family and working as a chef.

He was already working as a chef at a Melbourne restaurant but lost his job when the pandemic hit and lockdown restrictions came into effect.   

“He needed to earn money, to get by. I remember asking him, are you sure you want to work as a delivery rider, I worried about his safety on the roads, but he told me it was safe.

“And now we have seen, that he has passed away just because of a few dollars of delivery. It makes my heart break.” 

Chow Khai Shien (left) with his family.

Chow Khai Shien (left) with his family.


In Australia, most gig economy workers are classified as independent contractors, not employees.  

Independent contractors are not entitled to benefits such as minimum wages, superannuation, and workers compensation.  While some delivery companies do offer a level of cover, there is no legal requirement for businesses to do so. 

Jim Stanford, economist and director of the Centre for Future Work, said the characterisation of delivery riders as independent contractors was a “technological loophole”. 

“By hiring and firing people through an application, these digital businesses try to pretend these workers are not workers, that they are independent contractors, that is a technological fiction.

“In practical terms, that’s ridiculous.  These workers are clearly working for these digital platforms, performing relatively menial and often dangerous tasks for low pay. 

“I don’t think this loophole should mean that these workers are deprived of the rights that any other worker in the economy would have.” 

Mr Chow (left) had dreams of owning a restaurant with his family and working as a chef.

Mr Chow (left) had dreams of owning a restaurant with his family and working as a chef.


Since September, five delivery workers have died on Australian roads. Four of the deaths were in Sydney. 

The NSW state government recently set up a task force to investigate the deaths.

It will be led by SafeWork New South Wales and Transport for New South Wales and will examine whether any avoidable risks may have contributed to the deaths and whether there are improvements that need to be made to enhance safety.

Calls for more rights and protections 

Chow Kai Sing – Mr Chow’s sister – said she is speaking out because she hopes her brother’s death can spur changes that prevent similar fatalities in the future. 

She hopes that government regulation will mandate for all delivery companies to have personal accident insurance and to have more safety protocols for the protection of riders. 

“Many of these riders are the most vulnerable, they are on the lowest income and they are putting themselves out, exposing themselves during the COVID pandemic. 

“I know that many of them rush from order to order to make deadlines that are set out by the delivery companies, and they are dying in this line of work.” 

The Transport Workers Union has been advocating for the federal government to set up a tribunal to deal with the gig economy. 

“It needs to set up a tribunal that can then put in place appropriate protections for these workers and put in place obligations on these companies so they can’t run around like it is the Wild West.” 

Federal Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter said the issue was largely a state and territory one, but committed to bringing it up at the next meeting of work health and safety ministries.

“Every worker, no matter how their employment arrangements are structured, has the right to a safe working environment and to come home to their families at the end of each day,” he said in a statement.

DoorDash, the company which Chow Khai Shien was working for, told SBS News in a statement that health and safety is its priority and that it has signed an agreement with the Transport Workers’ Union earlier this year to provide a broad range of protections for its drivers. 

Source link

Continue Reading


Australia’s gig economy faces a reckoning as delivery death toll mounts




The federal government is facing increasing pressure to regulate Australia’s ‘gig economy’ following a spate of delivery rider deaths.

Five delivery riders working for apps including UberEats, DoorDash and Hungry Panda have been killed on the job in the past two months.

On Monday, an as yet unnamed rider died while working for UberEats in Sydney, just two days after the death of another UberEats rider, Bijoy Paul, on Saturday.

The deaths follow those of DoorDash rider Chow Khai Shien in Melbourne on October 24 and UberEats riders Xiaojun Chen on September 29, and Dede Fredy on September 27.

Of the five men killed, two were riding bicycles, two were riding motorcycles, and one was riding a scooter.

The deaths have shone a light on the precarious and dangerous conditions facing gig economy workers who are classified as independent contractors and, therefore, lack many of the rights and protections enjoyed by employees.

Food delivery workers are also often on temporary visas and have been excluded from the Morrison government’s pandemic safety nets JobSeeker and JobKeeper.

This leaves them little option but to take on low-paid, insecure and risky gig economy jobs to survive.

A Transport Workers Union survey of delivery riders in September showed that average earnings after costs were just over $10 an hour.

Nearly 90 per cent of riders reported their pay had decreased, and 70 per cent said they were struggling to pay bills and buy food.

On Wednesday, food delivery riders and TWU representatives held a vigil for the five riders killed since September and laid flowers in front of UberEats’ Sydney headquarters.

The TWU called on the federal government to step in and “stop the carnage”.

“The death of five workers in less than two months is devastating,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“It’s not good enough that states are in a piecemeal way trying to address the problem these billion-dollar global tech giants have created. We need the federal government to act and regulate.”

Companies such as Uber have “been allowed to get away with trampling on workers’ rights and risking their lives”, Mr Kaine said.

New South Wales has established a taskforce and parliamentary inquiry into the gig economy, but the findings not expected to be released until late 2021.

Last week, representatives of food delivery app Hungry Panda failed to front the inquiry without explanation.

Riding advocates Bicycle Network said the inquiry’s findings “must be expedited so a better workplace for food delivery riders can be made as soon as possible”.

“We cannot wait 12 months until reforms are made to bring gig-economy standards into line with what Australians expect and deserve,” a statement from the organisation said.

It’s an emerging crisis that requires urgent action before more lives are tragically lost.”

Bicycle Network called on federal and state governments to “create safer road environments that can stop crashes from happening or reduce their severity”.

Regulation, not consumer boycotts, the answer

University of Technology Sydney business and consumer ethics expert Martijn Boersma said federal government regulation and not consumer boycotts is what Australia’s gig economy workers need.

Consumer boycotts could help food delivery companies “see the light” by “making them hurt financially”, but the onus to fix the problem must be on the government, not consumers, Dr Boersma said.

“It’s up to the government to regulate the so-called gig economy properly.

“They have left it unregulated for such a long time that we now have basically a two-tiered employment system where we have people, in the name of the gig economy, effectively doing piecework.”

Dr Boersma pointed out that gig economy companies have a history of pouring eye-watering sums into lobbying against workers’ rights.

In California, Uber and Lyft recently spent more than a-quarter-of-a-billion dollars to successfully fight law reform that would have seen gig economy contractors classified as employees.

‘Problem exists’, but it’s up to states to fix it: Porter

Federal Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter this week acknowledged that a “problem exists in relation to delivery riders”, but argued it is up to states and territories to fix it.

“Every worker, no matter how their employment arrangements are structured, has the right to a safe working environment and to come home to their families at the end of each day,” Mr Porter said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“For delivery riders, maintaining that safe work environment is a state and territory government responsibility … changes need to be made by state and a territory governments to prevent further injuries or loss of life.”

The delivery rider in Australia earns about $10 an hour on average. Photo: Getty

Despite arguing the Commonwealth “has no direct authority to make changes in this area”, Mr Porter said the federal government” can play a leadership role on issues such as this”.

“That is why I intend to have rider safety added as a priority agenda item for the next meeting of national work health and safety (WHS) ministers,” he said.

“I will seek agreement from ministers for Safe Work Australia (SWA), as the national WHS and workers’ compensation policy agency, to urgently consider education and awareness strategies, including necessary prevention measures, to improve safety outcomes for all gig workers, including delivery riders.”

The New Daily put questions to UberEats, DoorDash, Menulog, Deliveroo, and Hungry Panda.

“Recent events have been devastating for the families and friends impacted and for the wider delivery community,” an UberEats spokesperson said.

“Safety is fundamental to us and we have instituted a number of measures over recent years to keep those who use the platform safe, including onboarding modules covering road and bike safety, an annual cycling safety test, and cycling specific navigation.

“We also have a partner support package should something go wrong while a delivery partner is using the app, which Uber funds at no additional cost to partners.”

Road safety is “a complex area, which requires industry co-operation with experts and government stakeholders,” the spokesperson said.

“UberEats is committed to an industry response and in recent weeks we have begun conversations with other delivery businesses and the restaurant community on safety standards for the industry,” they said.

“We will continue to advocate for minimum insurance standards across platforms to ensure all those earning through independent work have access to insurance regardless of which app they are using.”

A spokesperson for Deliveroo said the company “is saddened by the recent tragic deaths of the food delivery workers and our thoughts are with the families and rider communities during this sad time.

“Deliveroo provides every rider with free personal injury and income protection insurance, which activates as soon as a rider logs on to the app, and up to an hour after their last delivery,” the spokesperson said.

“Compensation for dependents or family in the event of a death or permanent disability is included in the insurance policy. We also provide free public liability insurance.

“There is no doubt that the issues of road safety are complex and require the input of experts, industry and government to build solutions. We are committed to working with stakeholders to achieve this.”

DoorDash, Menulog, and Hungry Panda did not respond by deadline.

Source link

Continue Reading


TCS tries out gig-type working models in pandemic’s wake




Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest IT-services company, is piloting alternate work models, including a gig model, to deliver its projects, as it explores the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.IT companies, which had typically required people to work from the office, have had to change to an almost-complete work-from-home model. TCS is testing out various models, the company’s human resources head told ET.“We are looking at

Source link

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2019