Calls for Uber safety probe after spate of Australia rider deaths

A food delivery courier working for Uber Eats pushes a bicycle past a restaurant. The deaths of five delivery riders across Australia in the past two months has triggered an investigation into Uber Eats and other food delivery companies. — Bloomberg

The death of a second delivery cyclist in Sydney in three days has sparked calls for an investigation into Uber Eats and other food delivery companies.

The death on Monday night was the fifth across Australia in the past two months, according to the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU). None had the right training, proper protective gear or insurance, the union said.

“Companies like Uber do not care whether their workers live or die so long as the food gets delivered on time. That is clear from the lack of training and protective gear for riders,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It’s also clear in the way companies like Uber harass their riders and threaten them with sacking if they are even a few minutes late.”

On Monday, the rider – believed to be in his 30s – died at the scene after he was struck by a truck carrying an excavator in central Sydney, New South Wales police said.

A 27-year-old Uber Eats rider from Bangladesh died in hospital on Saturday after being hit by a car also in Rockdale, near Sydney airport.

New South Wales opposition gig economy spokesman Daniel Mookhey warned that there is a “massive crisis is unfolding in the gig economy” and is urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison to regulate the industry.

A spokesperson for Uber Eats said the company was “committed to playing a leading role in achieving this”.

“In isolation this fatality is devastating. But when considered alongside other recent incidents across the on-demand food delivery sector, it is all the more concerning. It is clear that more needs to be done to improve road safety,” the spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

A survey by the TWU found that on average earnings after costs was just over Aus$10 (RM29.96) an hour. According to the Fair Work Commission, the national minimum wage should be Aus$19.84 (RM59.44) per hour.

Three delivery riders told a New South Wales parliament inquiry into the gig economy earlier this month that their pay had been cut during the pandemic, despite a surge in demand.

Lihong Wei, the widow of a man killed by a bus while delivering by motorbike for HungryPanda in September also gave evidence. Wei and her two children received no compensation. – dpa

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Rider safety , labour laws


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