The Transport Workers Union is calling for immediate legislative reform in NSW after two food delivery riders were killed in motorcycle crashes in Sydney this week.
On Sunday, 27 September, Dede Fredy died following a crash with a car three days earlier while working for UberEats. On 29 September, Xiaojun Chen was involved in a crash with a bus in Zetland while working for Hungry Panda. He died on Wednesday.
The TWU is calling on NSW Parliament to immediately adopt a Bill introduced last week by the NSW Opposition that would provide compulsory minimum personal protective equipment to food delivery workers.
The Federal Government must also urgently introduce safety regulation to prevent deaths in the gig economy, and to change the laws to make it absolutely clear that these are workplace deaths and must be investigated as such to stop them falling through the cracks.
The deaths of the past fortnight reveal appalling cracks in the system. Safework NSW had no knowledge of the deaths until advised by the TWU, following reports from other food delivery riders. This was days after the incidents occurred.
The union is urging the safety regulator to thoroughly investigate the cases, the companies involved and why these deaths had not been reported by the companies as they’re obligated to do under WHS legislation.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said Federal and State governments are sitting idle while essential workers are killed.
“This is a dark week. Dede Fredy and Xiaojun Chen are no longer with us because their work is horrendously unsafe. These deaths were not even reported until the TWU became aware of them. How can a worker lose their life yet days later a workplace investigation has not even begun?
“Food delivery riders have spoken out for years about danger and exploitation in the gig economy. Governments have refused to listen. We know of at least six riders who have been killed on Australian roads, but how many more have gone unreported?
“NSW Parliament has the opportunity to make riders’ work safer and must do so without delay. The Federal Government must get off its hands and immediately intervene to prevent more needless deaths of food delivery riders,” Kaine said.
The TWU is appalled by the responses from the companies involved. UberEats has so far been silent despite this being the fifth UberEats rider killed in Australia.
The other company involved, Hungry Panda said in a translated statement: We ask all delivery riders to pay attention to their own lives and safety, at the same time when they focus on the customers’ dining experience.
“Hungry Panda’s comments, simply telling riders to be more careful, are shocking while UberEats silence, amid multiple deaths is unconscionable. The Federal and state governments must step in immediately. Lives are at stake in the gig economy.
The TWU is appealing to concerned gig economy drivers, riders and companies to come forward to hearings at the NSW enquiry into the gig economy on 12 and 13 October. The TWU will make its own submission to the inquiry next week.
“The gig economy is the biggest threat to industrial relations we’ve seen in our lifetime, yet the IR Minister Christian Porter has little to say on the matter. The TWU urges Porter to join the enquiry next week and present his path out of this mess. While he’s there he could listen to the workers about what it’s really like on the road,” Kaine said.
A TWU survey released last week revealed an average hourly rate of just $10.42, with 71 per cent of workers saying they struggle to pay bills and buy groceries. Of the 36 per cent who’ve been injured at work, 81 per cent received no support from the company. A further 73 per cent said they are worried about being seriously hurt or killed at work.
Hungry Panda statement:
Local time 6pm, 9th Sept, a Hungry Panda rider had a traffic accident in a Chinese suburb Zetland in Sydney, Australia. The injured has been hospitalised.
Hungry Panda takes this incidence seriously. After this incidence, our local manager attended the location of the accident immediately, accompanied by the housemate of the injured, and waited in the hospital. We will follow up, update the situation of the injured, and provide needed support. Since the establishment of Hungry Panda, while we are committed to providing users with high-quality services, we have always attached importance to the health and safety of riders. We will continue enhancing the safety training of riders, increasing the awareness of safety in Panda riders’ mind. We ask all delivery riders to pay attention to their own lives and safety, at the same time when they focus on the customers’ dining experience.