Uber signs an agreement in Australia to better protect 100,000 drivers and deliverers

Posted 29 June, 2022

Uber has reached an agreement with a major Australian union, after years of legal battles and negotiations, to strengthen the rights of 100,000 food drivers and deliverers.

Transport Workers Union - one of the unions most critical of Uber - signed the deal with the US company on Tuesday night, with the two sides agreeing to minimum standards for all workers and the right to unionise.

In a joint statement, Uber and the union say they support the establishment of an independent authority by the Australian government to create industry standards.

The "gig economy" - which employs freelancers on a temporary basis for short-term activities - has grown rapidly since Uber launched in 2009.

But this model is the subject of growing criticism over working conditions and the dangers suffered by employees, particularly in Australia after a series of delivery worker deaths during the Covid-19 epidemic when demand exploded.

A 2020 study by the Transport Workers Union showed that 73% of food delivery workers were worried about "serious injury or death on the job", although safety considerations were not limited to Australia or the United States. Uber.

An Australian court ruled last week that an industry worker, Xiaojun Chen, killed in 2020 while working for food delivery service Hungry Panda was an employee, not a contractor.

His family got $573,000, said to be the first such compensation for a gig employee in Australia.

Uber Australia's managing director Dom Taylor admitted that the company and the union "cannot appear as objective allies" but that the agreement between the two parties would "enhance worker protections".

"We want to see a level playing field emerge for our industry and preserve the flexibility that gig workers value the most," he said.

Tuesday's deal comes after the election in May of a centre-left government that backed reforms to protect workers in the sector.

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