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Transport union hails Uber deal

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An agreement between gig economy company Uber and the Transport Workers’ Union has led to joint support for legislating industry-wide standards including a minimum wage.

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Under the agreement signed on Tuesday, Uber and the TWU agreed to support the federal government in legislating an independent body to set industry standards.

“It’s a great moment in Australian industrial history,” TWU’s national secretary Michael Kaine told reporters on Wednesday.

“It will mean Australians … can have the confidence that the worker who is providing those services is safe, is rested and is able to look after themselves and their family.”

Uber and the union will begin putting their case forward to the federal government, with the hope legislative changes are developed and approved in parliament this year.

Labor Senator Tony Sheldon, who chaired a job security senate inquiry, said the new government was committed to improving standards for gig economy workers.

“It’s high on the priority list,” Sheldon told reporters.

“But you need to have proper consultation to make sure (there’s) no unintended consequences, with a clear consequence of giving people minimum rights and workers basic rights and making this industry sustainable.”

The new agreement comes after Uber in February signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Transport Workers’ Federation, with which the TWU is affiliated, to begin talks on global working conditions.

The TWU signed a similar agreement with delivery platform DoorDash in May.

“Companies were pushing against this move for a long time,” Kaine said. “But it is true to say there is a sense of momentum.

“We’re now speaking with other companies in addition to Uber and DoorDash, and we think that the momentum is there for those companies to understand this is the pathway forward.”

A NSW upper house report published in April called for gig economy workers to be better protected after five food delivery riders were killed in the space of two months in late 2020.

A Victorian parliamentary inquiry also found gig economy platforms were deliberately structuring worker arrangements to avoid Australian regulations.

The new agreement between Uber and the TWU will lift the standard of work for more than 100,000 people, Uber general manager Dom Taylor said.

“We want to see a level playing field for the industry and preserve the flexibility that gig workers value most,” Taylor said in a statement.

“It is critical that earners continue to be part of the regulatory conversation and that their collective voice is heard.”

-AAP

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