App economy riders are in a battle for proper wages

Photo by Dan Himbrechts/AAP: App rider protest before the Fair Work Commission
Contributed from New South Wales

Food delivery riders in the emerging app economy and working for Deliveroo, Foodora and UberEats, are organising to protect themselves and joining the Transport Workers Union.

The number one issue is that they do not get paid enough to survive on. A case has been  brought before the Fair Work Commission, where a review of award wages are being sought.

At a rally just before the case in Sydney, one of the riders said that wages have dropped significantly over the two-and-a-half years he has been on the job, with one of the major companies.

“When I started two-and-a-half years ago, the standard contract was $14 an hour and $5 dollars a delivery,” rider Matt told reporters. “Those are now looked at as the golden old days. I now know riders that are doing $7 a delivery and zero dollars an hour – these guys are making $14, $7 or zero dollars an hour.”

The app economy is designed to provide cheap labour. The rider is only paid for on a piece rate for deliveries carried out and the rest of the time remains on standby with no pay. In addition, the rider is regarded as a contractor, and therefore the employer does not provide WorkCover, holidays, sick pay, or any of the other benefits usually enjoyed by an employee.

This is a form of exploitation that should have no place in Australia. It not only affects those who are engaged in the app economy. Other jobs paid at an hourly rate are threatened as well.

If the use of apps are going to be applied to the working relationship, this must occur under the minimum conditions of a standard workplace agreement, with regular wages and working conditions. This is what is being fought for.

The TWU national secretary, Tony Sheldon, said the major food delivery companies were practicing “wage theft” and said he wanted the Fair Work Commission to protect riders.

He said, “They’re stealing from hardworking people, who are delivering to our homes right around our country, by underpaying them.”

“We need to make sure we have a system in this country that works for everybody.”

The case is still before the Commission.

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