Gig economy inquiry must be expedited

Findings from the New South Wales Legislative Council’s inquiry into the gig economy must be expedited so a better workplace for food delivery riders can be made as soon as possible.

Five people have been killed in Australia while working for food delivery companies in the past two months – two people riding bicycles, two riding motorcycles and one riding a scooter.

A government committee is currently conducting an Inquiry into the impact of technological and other change on the future of work and workers in New South Wales, however it is not expecting to release a final report until late 2021.

We cannot wait 12 months until reforms are made to bring gig-economy standards into line with what Australians expect and deserve. It’s an emerging crisis that requires urgent action before more lives are tragically lost.

As part of the inquiry’s terms of reference, the committee is investigating how workplace health and safety laws can be applied to the gig-economy and what compensation and social insurance schemes may be reformed.

While the inquiry will likely make recommendations for companies such as UberEats, DoorDash and Hungry Panda, federal and state governments should also create safer road environments that can stop crashes from happening or reduce their severity.

It would be more helpful if NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance was to implement lower speed limits, improve safety standards of heavy vehicles and continue to build separated bike lanes than make victim-blaming recommendations such as wearing more reflective gear.

In risk management practices, personal protective equipment is the least effective way of preventing injury or worse. It's a bad moment when you have to rely on a reflective vest to save your life.

Other governments should also pay keen attention to the New South Wales inquiry. The same crisis that is unfolding in Sydney could happen in any city.

Food delivery rider deaths in Australia September – November 2020
  • Mr Dede Fredy died on 27 September 2020 while working for UberEats in Sydney
  • Mr Xiaojun Chen died on 29 September 2020 while working for Hungry Panda in Sydney
  • Mr Chow Khai Shien died on 24 October 2020 while working for DoorDash in Melbourne
  • Mr Bijou Paul died on 21 November 2020 while working for UberEats in Sydney
  • A man died on 23 November 2020 while working for UberEats in Sydney

Bicycle Network’s thoughts are with the friends and family of those who lost their lives and other workers in the food delivery community.

Click here to read more about the Inquiry into the impact of technological and other change on the future of work and workers in New South Wales.

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