Ex-delivery rider takes on Foodora in Australian first

A former delivery rider has taken his dismissal to the Fair Work Commission, in what’s believed to be the first case of its kind.

The Fair Work Commission is hearing the case of a dismissed delivery rider in what’s believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, and a test of the legality surrounding the gig economy.

Joshua Klooger, 28, began working for Foodora in Melbourne in 2016. He alleges he was unfairly dismissed in March 2018 when he started speaking publically about his pay and working conditions.

“They seem to just be focused on … the business owners and the stakeholders,” he told SBS News on Tuesday.

“[Foodora] doesn’t care at all about the workers who do the hard work,”

'Zero dollars per hour'

Mr Klooger claims Foodora gradually paid workers less money throughout his employment.

“It reduced to $13 an hour, $3 per delivery. Then in October 2016, it dropped down to just $10 an order and zero [dollars] per hour,” Mr Klooger said.

Josh Klooger says he was unfairly dismissed from Foodora.
Source: SBS News

Mr Klooger said the payment per order was $7 in February this year.

“I was upset about what they were doing to the new people who were joining,” Mr Klooger said.

“It showed how little they cared … it’s all about maximising profits for the companies.”

Supporting Mr Klooger’s case is the Transport Workers Union (TWU). It alleges food delivery companies are abusing riders to make money.

“This is not some shiny new economy - this is old-fashioned exploitation 1800's style,” TWU’s acting national secretary Michael Kaine told reporters.

“This time by sandshoe-wearing billionaires via an app, and it has to stop.”

The TWU has previously criticised Foodora over leaked internal emails which allegedly showed the company was aware it was engaging in “sham-contracting”.

A TWU survey found three out of four food delivery riders are paid below the minimum wage. 

In a statement, Foodora said: “As the matters are currently before the courts, it is not appropriate for Foodora to make any comment at this time.”

Push for broader regulation

SBS News revealed yesterday the Victorian government would today announce reforms to its laws to close a legislative loophole and give delivery riders the same protections as owner-operator truck drivers.

Victorian Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins told SBS News on Tuesday changes to the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act will include services like Foodora, Deliveroo, Uber Eats, as well as others.

“If they’ve signed a contract then they should be given what all their entitlements are, what their rates of pay are,” she said. 

“They’ll also be given a commitment under law that their invoices will be paid within 30 days of that invoice being received.”

The desire for flexibility in the workplace is acknowledged by Emmanuel Josserand, director of the Centre for Business and Social Innovation at the University of Technology in Sydney.

“There is an aspiration for workers to work differently,” Professor Josserand told SBS News.

“To be freer, to work when they want, but at the moment I feel it is being exploited by a business model that wants to break free from the social safety net we have created along the years.”

Professor Josserand argues that comprehensive, nationwide reform should be encouraged as a way to regulate the industry that encompasses delivery riders and drivers.

“You would want to have something coherent across states [and territories] but also something that’s coherent around different organisations,” she said.

“The law definitely needs to catch up, it’s not an issue specific to Australia, and there are questions about this across the world.”

Published 3 July 2018 at 6:45pm
By Hannah Sinclair