Five food delivery riders have died on Australian roads in just two months. Picture: iStock
Five food delivery riders have died on Australian roads in just two months. Picture: iStock

Fury as five workers die in two months

The NSW Government will launch a task force to investigate the gig economy following the fifth food delivery rider death in just two months.

On Monday night, an Uber Eats rider was killed on Sydney's busy Cleveland Street after colliding with a truck.

Just two days earlier, fellow Uber Eats deliverer Bijoy Paul, 27, died after being hit by a car in Rockdale on Saturday morning.

On October 24, DoorDash worker Chow Khai Shien was killed on a Melbourne road while Uber Eats deliverer Dede Fredy died on September 29 in Sydney and Hungry Panda rider Xiaojun Chen died on September 27, also in Sydney.

The string of tragedies means one food delivery rider has lost their life every two weeks in Australia since Mr Chen's death.

On Tuesday, Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson and Transport and Roads Minister Andrew Constance announced a new task force led by SafeWork NSW and Transport for NSW would look into the safety of the industry and discover whether new regulations were necessary.

Uber Eats deliverer Bijoy Paul, 27, died after being hit by a car in Rockdale on Saturday morning.
Uber Eats deliverer Bijoy Paul, 27, died after being hit by a car in Rockdale on Saturday morning.

"The task force will assess the safety measures currently implemented by each food delivery operator, and advise on any improvements needed to prevent further incidents," Mr Anderson said.

But Transport Workers' Union national secretary Michael Kaine said the task force wasn't good enough, and called on the Federal Government to intervene.

"Food delivery riders are literally dying because of the Federal Government's inaction. Despite five deaths in recent weeks and two deaths in just three days the Federal Government is refusing to take responsibility," he said in a statement.

"The law has not kept up and is failing to protect workers. It is no longer an option for the Federal Government and the states to pass the buck between them, we need action now.

"As a matter of urgency we want the Federal Government to investigate the safety measures Uber and other companies have in place for their riders and whether they meet workplace standards."

Mr Kaine said the government must begin by looking at regulating food delivery companies and putting in place an independent tribunal which workers can turn to.

NSW Labor's Gig Economy spokesman Daniel Mookhey has taken to social media following the latest death to call out the "massive crisis" unfolding in the gig economy, and to push for "modern workplace health and safety laws and a modernised workers compensation system" for gig workers.

Meanwhile, a TWU survey of delivery riders in September found average earnings after costs was just over $10 an hour while almost 90 per cent had seen their pay decrease and 70 per cent said they were struggling to pay bills and buy food.

More than half said they didn't have enough masks, gloves and sanitiser during the coronavirus pandemic and more than one in three riders had been injured on the job, with 80 per cent claiming they had received no support from their workplace.

Mr Chen's family have not received compensation following his death, and his widow gave evidence at a NSW parliamentary inquiry on the gig economy earlier in November.

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Fury as five workers die in two months


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