Survey shows ubereats drivers struggle with bankruptcy & homelessness

October 8, 2019

A new survey shows UberEats drivers have had a 50% pay cut to around $13 an hour in recent months, forcing some to go bankrupt and many to struggle to pay rent, bills and to support their families. One respondent to the survey said he was on the brink of homelessness: “Barely affording rent, thinking of sleeping in my car,” he said.

Drivers in Sydney along with the TWU and Senator Tony Sheldon will today deliver a letter to the shadow minister for the gig economy, Daniel Mookhey, at NSW parliament to press the need for change.

DRIVERS WILL GATHER AT 3PM AT THE PRINCE ALBERT STATUTE ON THE CORNER OF MACQUARIE AND COLLEGE STREETS TO MARCH ON STATE PARLIAMENT

The massive drop in income for car delivery drivers follows changes UberEats has made, preferencing cyclists and scooter riders over the drivers. UberEats did not consult drivers or inform them of the changes, despite many people buying, upgrading and renting cars to carry out the work.

“The true dystopian nature of Uber has been revealed through this survey. They pick and choose who, when and where they want the work to go. Last week it was car drivers, this week it is cyclists and scooter riders. There’s no process to inform people that they are about to lose income which will drastically affect their ability to pay rent and support their families. There is no minimum rate, no compensation over lost earnings and so these drivers are being thrown on the Uber scrap heap. This is the reality of the gig economy: it is destroying lives and the Federal Government is standing by and allowing it to happen,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.

The online survey of 67 car drivers in Sydney, Melbourne and Geelong shows they wait on average 80 minutes for delivery orders, up from just 11 minutes wait previously.

One survey respondent said the loss of income “has destroyed me financially”, while another said they had become bankrupt. One respondent said he struggled with “rent, food and support my family”. Other comments included: “Just been working long hours to make the same amount and no time to spend with family” and “just invested in a new car to do UberEats since the amount of orders I was getting were good but they now stuffed me over”.

The survey follows the death of an UberEats scooter rider last month. He was the fourth UberEats worker to die on the job in Australia.

Last month the TWU appealed the case of an UberEats car driver, who was sacked after she was 10 minutes late with an order, despite having to be logged on for hours to get orders. The TWU is taking a separate case against Deliveroo over gross underpayment.

“Other jurisdictions around the world are regulating the gig economy because they have seen how expendable companies like Uber sees its workforce. In Australia the government refuses to acknowledge the problem and is failing to act. The Government has chosen to side with billion dollar companies from Silicon Valley rather than supporting workers in Australia,” Kaine added.

A TWU survey of food delivery riders last year showed three out of every four are paid below minimum rates. Almost 50% of riders had either been injured on the job or knew someone who had. Three UberEats riders have been killed while working.

An investigation by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission forced UberEats to admit it is a transport operator, not a technology platform, in contracts with restaurants and to stop making restaurants pay for customer refunds.

Last year the TWU won a case against Foodora over unfair dismissal. This year almost 1,700 Foodora riders received back-pay totalling nearly $2.3 million after Foodora was forced to admit it was underpaying their wages and refusing them superannuation following audits by the ATO and Revenue NSW.

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