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Australian gig workers secure important Covid-19 protections

28 Jul 2020
Press Release

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) commends the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) of Australia on achieving enhanced health and safety and financial protections for DoorDash delivery workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The joint agreement between the TWU and DoorDash provides commitments to safety practices including access to personal protective equipment, financial assistance for workers who have tested positive to Covid-19 or been instructed to self-isolate, as well as commitments to collective representation and ongoing dialogue. 

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton welcomed the agreement today saying: “Riders will experience a real difference on the ground, and can be assured that they have protections in place to keep them safe and prevent transmission of the virus, and in the worst case financial protections if they contract Covid-19 and can’t work.” 

The TWU’s Delivery Riders Alliance is the leading voice for food delivery workers in Australia. TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the joint stance was an important first step in giving workers in the gig economy the protections and benefits they need.

“Through this joint agreement we want other companies to come on board to protect workers and we want state and federal governments to back the process,” said Michael Kaine. 

While welcoming the deal today, the ITF General Secretary encouraged further organising by gig economy workers to win fair treatment, respect, and the basic rights they deserve.

“This form of social dialogue is a step in the right direction; however, we must be clear that there is no substitute for genuine collective bargaining. We hope that gig workers worldwide unite, rally around this and demand their rights,” said Stephen Cotton. 

“All transport workers deserve full workplace rights and protections. We expect platform companies like DoorDash to comply with the law and not campaign against legislation that protects the fundamental rights of workers,” he added. 

In the United States, gig economy workers in California are currently mobilising to protect their recent legislative gains from Proposition 22, a US$100 million legislative campaign backed by DoorDash, Uber, Lyft, Instacart and Postmates that is seeking exemptions for themselves from the landmark AB 5 law. The AB 5 law codified the presumption of employee status under state law and made it harder for employers to misclassify workers as independent contractors and avoid their duty to provide basic rights, such as minimum wage, sick pay, overtime pay and paid leave.

“From Australia to California, gig economy workers are rising up around the world. The ITF will continue to assist their efforts to win the fair treatment, respect and the basic rights they deserve,” said Stephen Cotton.

The ITF is working closely with its almost 700 union affiliates to address the impacts of the future of work on transport workers. This includes campaigning for decent working conditions for gig economy workers through helping them to organise and mobilising to influence local, regional and global policy.

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