Death of Sydney Uber Eats rider the fourth food delivery fatality in two months
An Uber Eats delivery rider has been killed in Sydney in what is the fourth death among food delivery workers in the past two months.
Bijoy Paul, a 27-year-old man from Bangladesh, was hit by a car in the Sydney suburb of Rockdale at 11am on Saturday while on a delivery for Uber Eats. He was taken to hospital in a critical condition but died later that day.
On average, one food delivery rider has died in Australia every two weeks since 27 September.
Chow Khai Shien, a 36-year-old from Malaysia who worked for DoorDash, died in central Melbourne on 24 October. Xiaojun Chen, who worked for the app Hungry Panda, and Dede Fredy, another Uber Eats rider, died in Sydney on 27 and 29 September respectively.
Under Australian labour laws, workers for food delivery apps are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. This means they are not entitled to minimum wage, sick leave, annual leave and other entitlements.
In New South Wales, some workers are entitled to compensation for their families if they die in the workplace, or as a result of a work-related injury. Employees are largely covered by these laws but for independent contractors it can vary.
Under the NSW workers’ compensation scheme, the dependants of someone who dies because of a work-related injury are entitled to a lump sum payment of $834,200, and weekly payments of $149.30 for each dependant child until the age of 16.
Uber Eats provides its own insurance policy for workers, which gives dependants a maximum of a $400,000 lump sum, and potentially $5,000 for each spouse or dependant.
A survey conducted by the Transport Workers’ Union in September found food deliverers earned an average of just $10.42 an hour after costs – 73% said they were worried about being “seriously hurt or killed” at work.
In November three food delivery riders also told a NSW parliament inquiry that their pay had been cut during the pandemic, even as demand for food delivery surged.
On Sunday the national secretary of the TWU, Michael Kaine, said Paul’s death should be investigated like any other workplace death.
“Our hearts go out to the family of this rider and we know this will send shockwaves throughout the delivery rider community,” he said. “We have notified Safe Work NSW that this should be investigated as a workplace death and they are appointing an inspector.
“Riders are being put onto bikes [and] working our streets day and night for little pay. They have no right to insurance and when they get injured or die, it’s at the discretion of their companies as to whether they and their families get supported.”
NSW police confirmed in a statement that a cyclist had been hit by a car at the intersection of the Princes Highway and Lister Avenue in Rockdale, in Sydney’s south, and had been treated at the scene by an off-duty paramedic.
Paul was taken to St George hospital in a critical condition and died on Saturday afternoon.
Police said the driver of the vehicle, a 20-year-old woman, had been taken to hospital for mandatory testing, and police had started an investigation.
A spokeswoman for Uber Eats declined to say whether the company would be changing its provision of safety equipment or its training in light of the deaths.
“Road safety is a major focus for our business and we are continuing to work with delivery-partners, stakeholders and governments to help make sure those who deliver with the platform can do so safely,” she said.
Uber Eats also said it was not yet ready to provide an answer as to how much compensation Paul’s family would receive under its current policies.
The company said it had notified Paul’s family “via law enforcement” of his death.
“Over the weekend our law enforcement team engaged with New South Wales Police to offer our full assistance and notified SafeWork NSW,” she said. “We have reached out to his family via law enforcement to pass on our deepest condolences and outline the support available to the family.”