Multi-national Gig Companies Avoiding Accountability: Qld Unions

Gig companies have dodged public scrutiny by failing to attend Queensland Parliament’s public hearing into Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation yesterday.

Queensland Unions Assistant General Secretary Jared Abbot said gig companies’ absence at yesterday’s important hearing to introduce better protections for gig workers speaks volumes about the underlying hypocrisy propping up an industry fraught with danger and risk to its workforce.

In written submissions to the committee, several gig companies in the transport industry, including Uber, argue that they should not be brought into the Queensland Workers’ Compensation scheme because their workforce is much more likely to commit fraud than other workers.

“We know gig workers are crying out for long overdue safety measures across the sector and rights to better conditions like workers compensation,” Mr Abbott said.

“These workers deserve to know why it is that a company that is making huge profit from their work, has profiled them as criminals.

“This hearing was an opportunity for gig companies to substantiate some of the unbelievable claims they have made in written submissions, but instead gig companies have chosen to make countless offensive claims against their workforce, and subsequently lurk in the dark.

“What Queenslanders see is a sector devoid of values, led by big companies happy to reap in millions of dollars profits off the back of a workforce which is largely invisible and vulnerable, two things elevated even more by their inability to access safety protection measures like compensation.

“Sadly, gig companies in Queensland are like the absent parent who promises their kid they’ll turn up on the weekend and then does a no show – they are reliably hopeless.

“On one hand, gig companies are happy to preach about what strong protections they have in place for their workforce, while in actual fact their workforce has wholly inadequate health and safety procedures or structures in place to protect workers.

Queensland Unions says it welcomes yesterday’s hearing into the introduction of changes to Queensland’s workers compensation system for gig workers, signalling a shift in gig workers’ ability to access benefits they are currently locked out of.

Mr Abbott said the recent incident in the Brisbane suburb of Mt Ommaney involving the violent attack and robbery of a ride share driver highlights the urgency to instate this legislation which would allow workers in situations such as this to access workers’ compensation benefits such as weekly earnings while they are injured, or compensation for serious injuries and for dependents if they are killed.

“Having gig workers covered by the scheme will not only provide a safety net for some of the most vulnerable workers in society, but will also drive the companies who engage them to put decent health and safety measures into place,” said Mr Abbott.

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