TWU takes case against Deliveroo for unfair dismissal

A frontline essential food delivery rider sacked at the height of the pandemic with just seven days notice is taking a case against Deliveroo for unfair dismissal.

The case is the first of its kind against Deliveroo and comes as the TWU also files an appeal in the Federal Court over a decision last month that an UberEats driver could not take a case for unfair sacking because she was not an employee. The TWU previously won a case over the unfair sacking of a Foodora rider.

Deliveroo emailed rider Diego Franco in April stating he was being sacked because of slow deliveries without giving specifics as to when and where the problem had occurred. He had worked for the company for three years and is now struggling to support his wife and 11 month old daughter, subletting a room in their apartment.

TWU Assistant National Secretary Nick McIntosh said the case, which has been filed in the Fair Work Commission, showed how the Federal Government needs to step up to protect frontline essential workers.

“Diego and thousands of food delivery riders like him have been hailed as the heroes of the pandemic, allowing restaurants to stay open and people to self-isolate. But this is really a lie if he can be sacked by an anonymous email stating he’s being booted off the app. The treatment of these so-called essential workers is appalling. They work weekends, nights and in appalling weather with no penalty rates, minimum rates or even guaranteed pay. They get no sick leave if they are unwell and need to stay at home. They get no superannuation or annual leave. And when they are no longer useful to the company they can be sacked without warning or the chance to appeal,” he said.

“For years now the Federal Government has known about this hideous exploitation and abuse and it has chosen to do nothing. It has come down to individual riders to take on behemoth companies like Uber and Deliveroo, which is backed by Amazon. Other jurisdictions are regulating this sector and the Federal Government needs to explain why it refuses to do so,” McIntosh added.

In the UberEats case which the TWU is appealing, the Fair Work Commission slammed Uber’s business model stating that the company has a contractual relationship with workers regardless of the labels it applies to them.

The TWU is separately taking a case for gross underpayment against Deliveroo.

A TWU survey of food delivery riders in Australia shows three out of every four are paid below minimum rates. Almost 50% of riders had either been injured on the job or knew someone who had. At least four riders have been killed while working.

An investigation by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission forced UberEats to admit it is a transport operator, not a technology platform, in contracts with restaurants and to stop making restaurants pay for customer refunds.

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