Uber said it would back legislation in Australia to set minimum wages for rideshare and food delivery drivers and allow them to join a union, following months of talks with the Transport Workers’ Union of Australia (TWU).
It said in a joint statement with the TWU it would support the creation of an independent body that would set standards on earnings, benefits and conditions for so-called gig economy workers.
Uber also conceded they should have the right to join a union and collectively bargain.
The two said they had signed an agreement to support an unspecified federal body that would “set minimum and transparent enforceable earnings and benefits/conditions for platform workers”.
The new body would also oversee disputes that resulted in gig workers having their accounts shut off, the statement said.
The statement represents a shift for Uber, which has gradually struck agreements in the UK, Canada and some US states to provide its workers with a basic level of pay, after insisting for years that drivers were self-employed contractors.
A UK court ruled in February 2021 that Uber drivers were its “workers” and entitled to the national minimum wage, after which Uber said in May it would formally recognise the GMB trade union.
Australia’s Labor government, elected in May, has said it plans to introduce legislation to better protect gig workers and establish minimum standards for them.
“TWU and Uber support regulatory certainty for platforms and the provision of minimum benefits and standards for platform workers who aren’t engaged as employees, while preserving the flexibility inherent in platform work,” Uber and the TWU said in the statement.
Uber general manager for Australia Dom Taylor said in the statement that the company wanted “to see a level playing field for the industry” but also to “preserve the flexibility that gig workers value”.
“It is critical that earners continue to be part of the regulatory conversation and that their collective voice is heard,” he said.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the agreement was “a significant and positive development in the years-long campaign led by gig economy workers to modernise out-of-date industrial laws”.
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