Uber Eats boss calls for new rules to protect workers
The head of Uber is calling for new regulations to protect gig economy workers after the deaths of five delivery riders in Australia in just two months, including two delivering goods for Uber Eats.
Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi told News Corp minimum insurance, training, and workplace standards needed to be established to protect workers, and "regulators have to be part of the dialogue".
Mr Khosrowshahi said the company had also contacted the families of the two deceased Uber Eats workers and would be providing financial support.
His comments come after the Transport Workers Union (TWU) staged a vigil outside Uber's Sydney headquarters today in memory of the riders, and the New South Wales government launched a taskforce to investigate conditions in the industry.
Mr Khosrowshahi, who has been speaking to delivery drivers and riders as part of a virtual tour of the company's Australian operations this week, said he wanted "to have this dialogue" with politicians and was open to introducing changes to protect workers.
Minimum workplace insurance standards, mandatory training, and occupational health and safety consultations could be among the changes, he said, and should apply to all gig economy workers.
"Bad things are going to happen, especially in an industry growing as fast as ours, but we want to make sure that the safety standards are there," he said.
"These are areas where we can raise the bar and I think the whole industry should participate. And if you want the whole industry to participate then regulators have to be part of the dialogue."
Mr Khosrowshahi said Uber introduced accident insurance for its Australian delivery workers in 2018, and had added annual safety checks for bike riders and maximum shift times, but he said companies using delivery workers needed to do "everything that we can to avoid these kinds of tragedies".
Uber had contacted the families of riders Bijoy Paul and Dede Fredy who died while making deliveries, Mr Khosrowshahi said.
"These are tough conversations but we reached out in terms of support and making sure that we're there for them," he said.
"Obviously these are personal tragedies and there's only so much we can do but we want to make sure that the families know that we are there for them."
Mr Khosrowshahi's comments come after a food delivery driver died in a road accident in Sydney on Monday, which followed the death of Mr Paul on Saturday.
The five men killed on Australian roads over the past two months were working for Uber Eats, DoorDash and Hungry Panda.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the deaths were "devastating" and workers gathered in front of Uber's Sydney office to pay respect to the riders and call for "changes so that the carnage stops".
Mr Kaine said the New South Wales government's taskforce into the industry was a positive move but the federal government also needed to introduce national changes to protect Australian workers.
"It's not good enough that states are in a piecemeal way trying to address the problem these billion-dollar global tech giants have created," he said. "We need the Federal Government to act and regulate."
Mr Kaine said delivery workers needed greater training, protective gear and better working conditions, including minimum rates of pay to prevent them racing "around trying to make enough to pay bills".
The NSW taskforce, led by SafeWork NSW and Transport for NSW, is expected to investigate the circumstances behind the workers' deaths, and to assess current safety measures put in place by the delivery operators.
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have led to a surge in demand for food deliveries.
Mr Khosrowshahi said the food side of the Uber business was now generating more revenue than its rides business, with "probably six years of acceleration compressed into six, very eventful months".
Originally published as Uber Eats boss calls for new rules to protect workers