Court considers rider inquiry
The NSW Coroners Court is considering holding an inquest into safety standards within the gig economy.
The court is looking at launching a public inquiry into the deaths of UberEats riders Dede Fredy, Bijoy Paul and Ik Wong, and Hungry Panda rider Xiaojun Chen, who were killed in road accidents while working in Sydney in late 2020.
The potential review follows an overhaul of safety standards for the on-demand delivery industry by the NSW and Victorian governments.
It also comes amid a push by unions and the federal opposition to change workplace legislation for members of the gig economy.
The NSW Department of Communities and Justice says the deaths are being reviewed by deputy state coroner Derek Lee, who will determine whether an inquest occurs.
The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has urged the court to proceed with the inquest. TWU national secretary Michael Kaine says a major investigation is long overdue.
“The families of riders killed continue to grapple with the indescribable loss of their loved one and deserve answers. That’s why these inquests must proceed,” Mr Kaine said.
The problem is not limited to one jurisdiction, with several delivery riders having died in Melbourne in recent years too.
The Victorian government is considering new standards that would require delivery platforms adhere to conditions covering fair pay, dispute resolution, bargaining power and worker representation, enabling them to seek better conditions.
Uber claims it has hastened its rollout of personal protective equipment, in-app tech features and education modules built specifically for the Australian market due to the safety concerns.