“Uber Eats, wage cheats!” and “Deliveroo, deliver right!” were among the chants that rang out at a rally in front of the Uber offices on May 14. Uber Eats delivery riders and drivers were protesting the millions of dollars in unpaid wages and other entitlements from Uber and other multinational food delivery companies.
Most riders are defined by the companies as “independent contractors”, which means they miss out on normal employee entitlements, such as award wages, superannuation and workers' compensation.
The rally was organised by the Delivery Riders Alliance and the Transport Workers Union (TWU). Tony Sheldon from the TWU told the gathering: “This is a horrific Hunger Games that companies are now entering into and there are tens of thousands of people that are operating this way.
“Delivery riders need fair wages. The average age of food delivery workers is 23. Many are overseas students, who really need the money.
“We call on Uber and other companies to pay fair wages and entitlements to their employees."
Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Sally McManus said: “This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is the ‘Uberisation’ of the economy long term.
“If this trend continues, Australian workers will lose all their rights. Workers at Uber are paid below the minimum wage, with no workers' compensation or other entitlements.
“These workers deserve the same rights as other employees, including the right to bargain for improved wages and conditions. This is why we need to Change the Rules to make them fair for delivery riders and all workers in this country.”
Delivery workers frequently have accidents and many have no insurance. Three delivery workers have been killed on the job in Australia.
National president of the Council of International Students Australia Bijay Sapkota told the rally: “More than 70% of the workers who have been exploited by Uber Eats and other food delivery companies are international students. I think governments should work more to make these big corporations accountable for what they are doing.
“Accountable for the wage that they offer, accountable of the compensations that they give, accountable of the wage they need to deliver to international students in Australia.”
One of the riders said: “We decided to unite to defend our rights. Everyone here has the same feeling.
“The fight is very big. We need your help if we are going to win.”
Another rider delivered a large invoice presenting the demands of the riders to a representative of Uber in the entrance to the office.