THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
OPINION PIECE: DO YOU CARE HOW MUCH THE PERSON DELIVERING YOUR DINNER GETS PAID?
I’ve taught my children to cook. They even like cooking.
So why then do I see food delivery charges on my credit card? My sons, when they were six and 12 worked out how to charge deliveries to my card and I came home one night to find them and their older sister surrounded by food wrappers and super-sized soft drinks.
This is not what I call progress.
Apparently, I am alone in this view. Utterly alone. I have friends and colleagues who get lunch delivered at work from restaurants several suburbs away, even though they have perfectly good restaurants nearby.
I am prepared to accept that the world has moved on and that I am a dinosaur. The world of work, especially in the service sector, has changed dramatically. We all are familiar with new terms like disruption, the gig economy and surge pricing. However, none of this changes the need to pay people a decent wage for the work they do.
This week I met Patrick, a rider for Deliveroo. Patrick told me how hard it was getting by when he was barely making minimum wage and also paying for expenses: buying his scooter, repairs, petrol, his phone and equipment. This is backed up by a recent survey conducted by the Transport Workers Union and Unions NSW which showed that three-quarters of food delivery riders are paid below the minimum award wage of around $24 an hour for a casual worker and almost half said either they or someone they know has been injured doing their job. These workers generally don’t get sick leave or annual leave and can’t access protections like workers compensation and unfair dismissal.
That’s why I support the Rights4Riders campaign. This campaign, being run by food delivery riders, has the support of unions and aims for fair rates, superannuation, WorkCover, sick leave, the right to challenge an unfair dismissal, the right to representation, and the right to collective bargaining.
With the changing nature of work comes new jobs in new companies, new industries and new forms of work organisation. Labor welcomes this change – even if we didn’t, we could not stop it. But the business models in these emerging industries must not allow new opportunities for companies to avoid paying tax, or paying their workforce properly.
The Turnbull government has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to developments in the gig economy. The fact is that 10 years ago when the Fair Work Act was written, the only shops delivering take-away were pizza chains and occasionally the local Chinese. Workplace laws have failed to keep up with changes in technology and the nature of work.
At the last election, Labor put in place six principles on the sharing economy, including that new services must support good wages and conditions, pay their fair share of tax, and provide access for people with disabilities. And we have declared our support for campaigns like Rights4Riders. I urge anyone, who cares how much the rider delivering their laksa is paid, to get onto their website, sign their petition and support this important cause.
This piece was originally published in The Guardian (Australian edition) on Wednesday, 14 March 2018