NSW premier commits to 'historic' gig worker equality
A decades-old inequality driving a wedge between those who deliver dinners and their customers will be soon addressed, the NSW premier has promised.
Transport union leaders gave NSW Premier Chris Minns a standing ovation as he pledged to amend the state's decades-old workplace laws to include ride-share and food delivery drivers.
"We're committed to modernising our laws and to address what we regard as a historic inequality," he told the Transport Workers Union national conference in Sydney on Tuesday.
"I can't wait to introduce that legislation with a former colleague of yours and now Treasurer of NSW, Daniel Mookhey."
Mr Minns said gig economy workers had experienced a decade of rapid growth, but NSW laws had failed to keep up.
He said by denying minimum conditions, leave entitlements and other protections available to every other Australian in the workforce, it was almost as if a second class of worker was being engineered.
"Not every issue in politics is about life and death, but this one is," Mr Minns said.
"Like many people were, I was shocked in 2020 that five people lost their lives working in this economy."
He couldn't say when the amendment would be introduced into parliament, but said consultation was under way.
A survey of about 1000 Australian gig workers released in March showed almost half earned less than the minimum wage, some were "effectively experiencing wage theft", and the industry had become "unsustainable".
Gig workers are treated as independent contractors in Australia, meaning they are not covered by national employment standards and do not receive sick leave or superannuation.
Uber has railed against a proposal to allow the Fair Work Commission to set minimum pay and conditions for gig workers, saying workers want to "protect flexibility, while also providing clear, fit-for-purpose standards".
It comes a month after grocery start-up Milkrun went into administration, having engaged delivery workers as employees, not independent contractors.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine told delegates that in an industry without standards, companies such as Milkrun couldn't afford to do what was right.
"They are always undercut by unscrupulous operators who will come along and force them out of business," he said.
"Debts and insolvencies are going to keep happening until the federal parliament passes reform."
Earlier, TWU members protested in Sydney's CBD, halting traffic at the intersection of York St and King St to remember the 301 truck drivers who have died on the roads since 2016 when the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was abolished.