The Transport Workers’ Union is again calling for food delivery riders to be better protected, saying Australia faces “a crisis of national importance” after a fourth rider died in about two months.
Uber Eats rider Bijoy Paul, a Bangladeshi national, died after reportedly being hit by a car at Rockdale in Sydney’s south on Saturday morning.
The driver of the vehicle, a 20-year-old woman, was taken to hospital for mandatory testing, and police have been investigating the circumstances of the incident.
Mr Paul’s sister, Shimul Paul, told SBS Bangla that the 27-year-old was studying for his Master’s at the University of Technology in Sydney, having arrived in Australia in 2016.
He had been working as an Uber Eats rider part-time for about a year-and-a-half.
“He died while he was delivering an Uber Eats order,” Ms Paul said. “He had Uber orders in his bag on his bike – it was an order from McDonald’s.”
Transport Workers’ Union national secretary Michael Kaine said Mr Paul’s death was another devastating blow for riders, who were being “put on to bikes with no training or protective gear”.
He is the fourth food delivery rider known to have died in Australia since late September, following the deaths of Dede Fredy, Xiaojun Chen and Chow Khai Shien.
In a statement on Sunday, Mr Kaine said such workers had no right to insurance, and it was up to the companies to decide whether their families received support when they died.
“These tragedies will continue to happen until we get real action from governments across this country, to put in place standards for these riders and obligations for these companies,” he told SBS News on Monday.
“This is a tragedy and a crisis of national importance.”
Mr Kaine said the federal government needed to introduce a tribunal that could put in place protections for workers, and obligations on companies.
“These riders have been the heroes of this pandemic, delivering to homes and businesses while they’ve been in lockdown,” he said.
“They are being treated so poorly. So poorly, that they are dying on our roads.”
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter said states and territories were responsible for regulating and enforcing workplace health and safety laws.
“Like all other workers, those in the gig economy are entitled to a safe and healthy workplace,” Mr Porter said in a statement on Monday.
“Commonwealth, state and territory work health and safety laws require a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to ensure the health and safety of all workers.”
But whether a driver is considered a worker, contractor or PCBU depends on the arrangement they have with the platform they deliver for, Mr Porter said.
The TWU has notified Safe Work NSW that Mr Paul’s death should be investigated as a workplace death.
Uber has been contacted for comment.