Survey reveals exploitation of transport workers

Survey reveals exploitation of transport workers

Transport and delivery workers in the gig economy are paid less, work more hours unpaid and are less satisfied than other workers, a major survey has revealed.

They are also more likely to be dependent on the income from gig economy work and to do it with greater frequency than other workers, shows the survey of 14,000 people, conducted by Queensland University of Technology, the University of Adelaide and University of Technology Sydney for the Victorian Government.

The biggest category for gig economy work was transport at almost 19%. The report states transport workers are “over-represented” in lower income bands of $15-$20 and $20-$30, before taxes and costs. Transport workers spent a weekly average of 5.2 hours working unpaid.

Transport workers, along with workers with a disability and unemployed people, were among the 15.4% of respondents working in the gig economy who were most likely to say the income they earned was essential for meeting basic needs.

“This report confirms a picture of exploitation of rideshare drivers, food delivery drivers and other gig economy workers. It shows transport workers in the gig economy are struggling with low pay, unpaid work, and the fact that the work just doesn’t cover their bills. Rideshare drivers have made massive capital investments and this survey shows they are dependent on the likes of Uber for their income, which gets continually reduced. This is an important report and it shows that the gig economy does not represent progress but is just another way of abusing workers,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.

“Almost half of all respondents who work in the gig economy don’t have insurance. Those doing transport work are among the most vulnerable: they are young, likely to have temporary residency status and come from non-English speaking backgrounds. We should be protecting these workers and regulating to ensure they have rights, have minimum rates and are covered when they are sick or injured. Instead, the Federal Government is ignoring the abuse and protecting the Silicon Valley executives who are exploiting them,” Mr Kaine added.

Uber was the second most used digital platform by workers, after Airtasker. UberEats was fourth most used, followed by Deliveroo and Ola Cabs.

Earlier this month the Fair Work Ombudsman announced after a two-year investigation it would not take action against Uber over its labour practices.

A survey of over 1,100 rideshare drivers in Australia by the TWU and the rideshare Drivers’ Co-operative last October showed the average pay is just $16 per hour before fuel, insurance and other costs are taken out. One in 10 drivers has been physically assaulted while 6% have been sexually assaulted. Workers responding to the survey said they faced death threats from passengers towards them and their families, rape threats, sexual assault, being punched in the face, held at knifepoint, had their car windows broken, their cars stolen, and have received racial abuse. Almost two-thirds of drivers have had false reports by passengers.

A 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. Three UberEats riders have been killed while working.

Last month, rideshare drivers in Australia took part in a day of global protest against Uber, while food delivery riders delivered an invoice to Uber offices in Sydney for unpaid wages and superannuation.

In November, a former Foodora food delivery rider Josh Klooger supported by the TWU won an unfair dismissal case against the company, after he was sacked for speaking out about rates and conditions. Last month, almost 1,700 riders received back-pay totalling nearly $2.3 million after Foodora was forced to admit it was underpaying their wages and refusing them superannuation.

 

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