Uber News: Uber accepts Australian minimum pay body after similar moves in Britain and Canada
In a joint statement, Uber and the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) said they had signed an agreement to support an unspecified federal agency to “set minimum and transparent enforceable earnings and benefits/conditions for platform workers.” .
The new body would also oversee disputes that have resulted in the accounts of conductors in the so-called “gig economy” being terminated and protect conductors’ right to organize a “collective voice”, according to the statement.
The move, while largely symbolic, reflects a broader response by the San Francisco tech giant to pressure from unions around the world to put a floor under wages that replaces its fee-setting algorithms.
The company has reached similar agreements with unions in Britain, Canada and some US states, but often after court rulings or changes in the law favoring guaranteed pay levels.
In Britain, a court ruled in February 2021 that Uber drivers were its “workers”, therefore entitled to the national minimum wage. In May, the company said it would formally recognize Britain’s GMB union.
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Australian courts have continued to support Uber’s argument that its drivers are independent contractors. But a New South Wales state inquiry in April recommended setting up a tribunal to set “minimum wages and conditions for construction workers”.
During this investigation, Uber said that paying drivers a minimum wage would prevent them from using other platforms and force them to accept a set number of rides, undermining their flexibility.
In Tuesday’s statement, Uber’s managing director for Australia, Dom Taylor, said the company wants to “see a level playing field for the industry and preserve the flexibility that gig workers value.”
“It is essential that employees continue to be part of the regulatory conversation and that their collective voice is heard,” he added.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the agreement was “a significant and positive development in the years-long campaign by workers in the gig economy to modernize outdated industrial laws”.