84% of riders say ‘tough new laws’ will make work more dangerous

Transport Workers' Union

Food delivery riders will today protest outside NSW Parliament over ‘tough new laws’ to monitor, target and fine riders in police blitzes while companies like Uber and Deliveroo are let off the hook for exploitation and deadly pressures.

A TWU poll of over 200 riders has revealed 84 per cent believe the move will increase pressure on them, while two thirds said it will not prevent deaths or injuries.

The survey also showed financial pressure from low pay and police fines causes riders to take risks:

  • 3 in 4 riders had to buy cheap, less safe equipment like bikes and helmets because of low pay
  • Over half have been fined by police while working as a delivery rider
  • Almost three quarters said pressure to pay fines made them work more dangerously including working longer hours and rushing to complete more deliveries
  • Two thirds said they struggled to pay for rent, bills and food because of the fine

On 5 June, Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson MP announced the ‘tough new laws’ which include monitoring food delivery riders with police-issued ID numbers.

Anderson said the laws were in response to a spate of rider deaths and high injury rates, for which he implied riders were to blame: “We can no longer stand by while riders continue placing themselves and others at risk.”

In April, the TWU and riders withdrew from the NSW Government Taskforce over the continued silencing of riders’ concerns about exploitation, unrealistic time pressures and the need for regulation to provide workers with minimum pay and protections.

“Riders are today asking the NSW Government to call off the hounds. Blaming and targeting riders over the symptoms of dangerous exploitation will only exacerbate the pressures they face. Riders are speaking from experience when they say fines will force them to rush, work longer hours and ultimately take more risks.

“The statistics are alarming. Three in every four riders are buying unsafe bikes and helmets because they can’t afford the safer alternatives. Plying riders with fines is clearly not going to solve this problem but will certainly make it a lot worse.

“The NSW Government has taken a leap backwards, but it can still fix this mess. All it will take is standing up to tech giants and putting in place a tribunal to give riders the minimum pay, rights and protections they desperately need,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.

Food delivery companies are facing court challenges around the world and in Australia over their sham business models. In December Uber rushed to settle an unfair dismissal case with delivery driver Amita Gupta after Federal Court judges savaged its business model. Last month former Deliveroo rider Diego Franco won an unfair dismissal case after he was sacked for being ‘too slow’.

A 2020 TWU rider survey revealed:

  • Food delivery riders earn as little as $5 per delivery
  • 70% say they are struggling to pay bills and buy food
  • More than one in three has been injured on the job, with the vast majority (80%) receiving no support from their company

Click here for survey results.

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