The Transport Workers Union will argue that Uber Eats workers are employees of the company and not independent contractors.
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With the support of the Transport Workers Union, a former Uber Eats delivery driver will appeal a Fair Work Commission decision that ruled in favour of Uber Eats’ move to sack her.
It has been alleged that Adelaide-based driver Amita Gupta was let go by Uber in January after she was 10 minutes late to a delivery, which caused her rating to fall below 85 per cent -- below the company’s accepted threshold.
Mrs Gupta’s case was originally rejected by the Commissioner Peter Hampton in August on the grounds that she was not an employee of Uber Eats but rather an ‘independent contractor’ under fair work law.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) will today ask for the full Fair Work Commission bench to reassess Mrs Gupta’s case, citing her long working hours as proof she was an employee.
“Amita’s case shows the slave-like conditions gig economy workers face: in one week alone she was logged onto the app for 96 hours and was paid just $300. When she was late with an order by 10 minutes, Uber sacked her,” TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement
We do not believe it is in the public interest for these dystopian conditions to be allowed to endure and become the norm in Australia.
Santosh Gupta, Mrs Gupta’s husband, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the August trial failed to acknowledge the pressure put on workers.
"The tribunal said there is not an obligation to log on the Uber app. But there is an obligation to work when you log on and if you don't accept jobs, your rating goes down,” he said.
"Uber says there is no fixed time to reach a location. But if there is no fixed time, how could they say she was late?"
Ms Gupta claims that she was notified by the app that her account was being closed after her rating fell below 85 per cent.
The TWU’s appeal on behalf of Ms Gupta was attributed to ending “worker exploitation via an app.”
Uber has said that they welcomed the FWC’s original decision and that it reflects the feelings of a majority of its workers.
This is not the first time the gig-economy has copped heat for the mistreatment of workers.
In November of 2018, the TWU won an unfair dismissal case on behalf of former Foodora delivery person Josh Klooger.
The TWU successfully proved that Mr Klooger was “at least a casual employee” of the service, pointing to the companies control over his place of work and the start and finish times of his shifts.
In the months before the ruling, the German-based company announced that it would be withdrawing from Australia following revelations that it owed over $5 million to workers in underpaid wages.
“We’ve found that the gig economy is like the wild west industrially,” Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey told The Feed.
“We’ve found people are working for no penalty rates, no permanent jobs, no worker’s compensation. It’s just a hodge podge of conditions.”
Restaurants have also gone up against delivery services.
Since Uber Eats launched in Australia in 2016, restaurants have been responsible for any requested refunds regardless of whether the restaurant is at fault.
An investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission put a stop to this in September when they claimed it was an example of the app’s “unfair terms”.
In response to the investigation, Uber Eats committed to amending the terms deemed “unfair”.
Restaurants are now only held responsible for matters within their control, such as incorrect food items and missing orders.
They will also have the opportunity to dispute refunds, which will be reviewed by the delivery platform.