Contributed from New South Wales
On 1 November, food delivery riders with Deliveroo sent letters to the compsny, demanding that it comply with workplace health and safety laws.
It is part of a campaign to address the dangerous risks they face, including collisions with cars, lethal falls from their bikes and heat stress. Four delivery drivers have died so far this year.
Management has been given 14 days to comply with the Work Health and Safety Act (2011). Failure to do so will result in further action.
The Act allows workers to elect health and safety representatives, who have the authority to enforce safety obligations and Ban unsafe work.
Deliveroo has been resisting this basic right and recently set up safety panels. The contention is that it is the company alone that decides who sits on these panels. Riders see this as a fraud that will change nothing. They believe that they should be the ones to pick their own representatives.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said: “Riders have taken a brave step today to hold Deliveroo to account for their safety at work. This company is ignoring safety to line its own pockets. Today riders are saying safety is important and that they want Deliveroo to comply with the law, give them the focus on safety they want and allow them to elect their safety representatives.
“The problem with safety for delivery riders shows the need for over-arching regulation on all aspects of the job. The Federal Government has chosen not to regulate the gig economy and so workers are being injured, put at risk, denied minimum wages, denied sick leave and have no right to challenge unfair sackings.
“Riders are again being forced to take a piecemeal approach and to take these companies on one by one and issue by issue.”
Other points of contention are the absence of proper inductions and training for new riders, failure to provide adequate protective gear, and the fact that they must continue to ride in extreme weather. Riders also want the right to belong to a union.
With the help of the union, riders have created the Delivery Riders Alliance, which is organising the current campaign.
“Michael Kaine adds: “Since arriving in Australia, Deliveroo has stripped workers of their rights: there are no guaranteed hourly rates, delivery distances have increased causing a 30-40 percent drop in pay, and the company has terminated workers without warning or the chance to appeal.
“While our industrial laws are facilitating this stripping away of rights the workplace health and safety laws are robust, and we expect Deliveroo to be held to account on safety”
A survey found that three out of four are paid below minimum rates, and almost 50 percent had either been injured on the job or knew someone who had.