The family of an Uber Eats rider who was killed on the job has launched a landmark compensation claim

The Transport Workers Union lodged the claim on behalf of Dede Fredy's family, arguing Uber delivery workers should be entitled to the same benefits as employees.

The family of an Uber Eats rider who was killed on the job has lodged a claim for worker's compensation.

The family of an Uber Eats rider who was killed on the job has lodged a claim for worker's compensation. Source: Supplied

The widow of an Uber Eats rider who was killed while working in Sydney's inner west has lodged a claim for more than $830,000 in compensation, in what could become a landmark challenge to Australia's labour laws.

Indonesian-born Dede Fredy, 36, was killed in a Marrickville road accident in late September while delivering food. .

Lawyers acting for the Transport Workers Union filed the claim with state insurer iCare on Tuesday afternoon on behalf of Mr Fredy's Indonesian-based widow, Nyoman Sunarti, and his four-year-old son, Muhammad.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) National Secretary Michael Kaine.
Transport Workers Union (TWU) National Secretary Michael Kaine. Source: AAP

Uber drivers and delivery riders are currently considered independent contractors under Australian labour laws, and therefore not entitled to the same benefits as employees.

If the claim is rejected by iCare, the union will try to launch a landmark test case at the Workers Compensation Commission. 

Such a case would be the first-ever brought against a gig economy company for independent contractors' right to workers' compensation, the union said.

“This is the latest route we are pursuing to hold the likes of Uber to account over the way they are trashing our labour laws and leaving riders and families literally on the streets," national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.

"We intend to take this claim all the way to the Workers Compensation Commission in a test case to extend full workers’ compensation rights to food delivery riders."

The union argues that Mr Fredy's family is entitled to a lump payment of $834,000, weekly payments of $149 for his dependent child, and funeral expenses as outlined in the NSW workers' compensation legislation.

Uber currently provides private insurance to its - less than half of what is available under state legislation. This is not a mandatory requirement for gig economy companies. 

"Grieving families of riders should not have to take on multi-national goliaths like Uber but a refusal by the federal government to regulate has left them with no choice," Mr Kaine said.

"Riders have no right to minimum rates, training or proper protective gear and when they are injured or killed it’s up to the companies as to whether they and their families are covered."

There has been increasing pressure on food delivery companies as well as the Australian government to provide greater protections, including better training and equipment, such as helmets and hi-vis jackets, following the spate of deaths.

Delivery riders , which could have contributed to unsafe work conditions.

“It could have easily been me. What’s the point of earning money if I’m not alive,” delivery rider Alex Roxborough said last month.

"The amount that we are being paid is absolutely essential to the conditions and how safely you are able to ride during our shifts.

An Uber Eats spokesperson told SBS News they had implemented a number of safety measures for delivery riders over recent years, including road and bike safety training modules, an annual cycling safety test, and cycling-specific navigation.

The company is also undertaking an internal review of their safety systems and processes.

"Uber enables flexible and independent work in a way that hasn’t been possible before. There is no control over a partner's day-to-day tasks or operation, or requirement for partners to report to a manager or boss," the spokesperson said. 

"Having the same rights, obligations and responsibilities as an employer under workers compensation legislation is neither practical or achievable, since Uber does not have the same level of control, management or oversight as employers."

The NSW government last month  and whether the recent deaths were caused by "avoidable risks".

It will also probe whether tighter safety regulations are needed to prevent further tragedies, Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said late last month.

“Every workplace death is a tragedy. Every person who goes to work should come home safely,” he said.

4 min read
Published 9 December 2020 at 11:20am
By Maani Truu
Source: SBS