Uber and TWU strike deal that lays foundation for future of gig workers

Transport Workers' Union

Uber and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) have signed an agreement that will protect the flexibility of gig workers and support the creation of minimum standards and benefits for those working in the on-demand economy.

Michael Kaine, National Secretary of TWU, was joined by Uber Managing Director Dom Taylor and Uber Eats Managing Director Bec Nyst to sign the Statement of Principles and Future Commitments for Workers in the On-demand Economy on Tuesday.

This is the first time a platform company in Australia has struck a deal with a union across both the rideshare and food delivery industries and is the result of months of detailed discussions. At the core of the deal, Uber and the TWU support the Federal Government legislating for an independent body tasked with creating industry-wide standards regarding:

  1. Minimum and transparent enforceable earnings and benefits/conditions for platform workers based on the principle of cost recovery, taking into account the nature of the work;
  2. A cost effective and efficient mechanism to resolve disputes such as deactivation of relevant platform worker accounts. Any dispute resolution mechanism must be fit for purpose for platform work;
  3. The rights of platform workers to join and be represented by the relevant Registered Organisation are respected and that platform workers have an effective collective voice;
  4. Appropriate enforcement exists to meet these standards and objectives.

The agreement also outlines a commitment to hold further discussions to implement the agreed principles and reach a set of industry standards across both the rideshare and delivery industries.

The charter follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed in February by Uber and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), of which the TWU is an affiliate, agreeing to begin a social dialogue on working conditions for drivers and couriers globally.

National Secretary of TWU, Michael Kaine:

“The Principles we signed today are a significant and positive development in the years-long campaign led by gig economy workers to modernise out-of-date industrial laws.

“For too long, the balancing of flexibility and the enforcement of strong workplace rights and protections has been seen as a zero-sum game.

“The TWU and Uber today endorse a strong regulatory solution to put the debate to rest: an independent body to establish universal earnings protections and minimum standards that will support flexibility, safety and security across the on-demand industry. These Principles, endorsed by our gig worker committee, set a path towards a gig economy that’s safer, more sustainable and less volatile for all industry participants.

“We welcome Uber’s constructive cooperation and look forward to continued negotiations to deliver the reforms workers desperately need.

“Today’s agreement sends a strong signal to the newly-minted Federal Government that it must act to deliver gig companies regulatory certainty and extend appropriate safeguards to workers across the gig economy.”

Uber General Manager, Dom Taylor:

“Whilst Uber and TWU may not seem like obvious allies, we’ve always agreed that driver and delivery partners must come first, and today we have struck this important deal to improve workers’ protections.

“Gig workers make a significant contribution to our economy and this agreement aspires to lift the standard of platform work for more than 100,000 drivers and delivery people using the Uber platform as well as the broader industry.

“We want to see a level playing field for the industry and preserve the flexibility that gig workers value most. It is critical that earners continue to be part of the regulatory conversation and that their collective voice is heard.

“We are pleased to be working collaboratively with the TWU, Federal Government, and those in the industry, to create a framework which recognises the unique nature of independent work and lays the foundation for the future of the gig economy.”

Uber Eats General Manager, Bec Nyst:

“The food delivery industry has grown rapidly over the past few years and it is important that we create industry-wide standards for all earners, regardless of what platform they choose to work on.

“Platform workers play an important role in our communities, especially over the last few years as they helped to keep restaurants going through lockdowns and ensure people could get the food and essentials they needed.

“We are pleased that this framework recognises platform work as an important and unique flexible earnings opportunity. We want to see these opportunities continue to grow and at the same time to raise the bar for platform work.

“We are always looking at ways we can improve the earnings experience on Uber and this agreement with the TWU will help us ensure platform workers can enjoy the flexibility to earn, underpinned by greater benefits and protections.”

The full Statement of Principles and Future Commitments for Workers in the On-demand Economy can be found here.

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