House debates

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Statements by Members

Food Delivery Industry

1:33 pm

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

In recent weeks, five food delivery drivers or riders working in the on-demand, or gig, economy have lost their lives at work, including Bijoy Paul, Dede Fredy, Xiaojun Chen, Chow Khai Shien and Ik Wong. All went to work and never came home.

This is a rapidly growing industry, employing an increasing number of workers. What we are seeing is Third World standards of work in a First World country. Five deaths in as many weeks is shocking and unacceptable. Yesterday, I met with a food delivery worker named Ashley who told me about the pressures that the workers and riders are put under, directly by the way that the app and its algorithm operate to deliver food as quickly as possible. As a result of that pressure, we end up with a situation where riders are riding in an unsafe way—skipping give way signs, running red lights, riding on the footpaths, going between parked cars and the lanes, risking being doored as someone opens the door to their car and then falling under other traffic.

The pressure is directly related to the way they are paid. It's a national issue, and so far there has been no federal government action to deal with it. We need to move beyond whether they are employees or not and acknowledge that they are workers and that they are not being treated safely, and we need to act.