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Uber signs major deal with Transport Workers Union

A landmark agreement between Uber and one of its harshest critics could have the potential to shake up the gig economy.

Under the agreement between the rideshare giant and the Transport Workers Union, the US-based company will support the introduction of a minimum earnings “safety net”.

It would also back the creation of an independent body to create industry-wide standards and a mechanism to resolve disputes.

Uber Australia managing director Dom Taylor said the deal was a “proactive” move, denying it was brought on by the threat of beefed-up regulation by the new Labor government.

“Ultimately, what we are trying to do is to improve the quality of independent work here in Australia for rideshare drivers and online food delivery drivers,” he told ABC Radio National.

Camera IconUber has signed a landmark deal with the TWU. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia

Prior to the May election, Labor committed to updating the Fair Work Act to account for the rise of the gig economy and expand the Fair Work Commission to cover “employee-like” forms of work.

Uber is the second platform to sign an in-principle agreement with the TWU after Doordash signed a deal in May.

The rideshare giant has signed similar agreements with unions in Canada and the UK.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said Australia’s laws were “hopelessly out of date” when it cames to workers classified as independent contractors.

“If you’re an employee and you’re categorised as such then you get all the rights we’ve built up over decades,“ Mr Kaine told ABC’s RN.

“(But) if you‘re an independent contractor, even if you’re very highly reliant on the entity that’s engaged you, all of a sudden you get no rights and conditions.

Camera IconUber is the second rideshare platform to come to the table after Doordash. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia

“What we’re saying, together with Uber, is that the laws need to change.”

Seven food delivery drivers died on the job in 2020.

Uber has fought tooth and nail for drivers and riders not to be classified as employees.

Mr Taylor said the agreement balanced the flexibility of gig work with the greater protection of drivers.

“We have an archaic industrial relations system which creates a clear dichotomy between contractors and employees,” he said.

“The flexibility has needed to be traded off for things like benefits and protections – and we don’t think that needs to be the case.”

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