Unions call for more regulation over Uber’s reporting failures

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 20 August, 2021 - 12:00
Industry news
National News

Uber was recently fined a record $203,500 for failing to report 37 notifiable incidents to the NSW regulator, although a later audit found 524 additional incidents had not been provided for scrutiny, including collisions and accidents requiring hospitalisation.

The NSW Point to Point Transport Commission audit also found Uber allowed 50 drivers with up to six separate complaints about distracted and drowsy driving to stay on the road and failed to check if drivers properly completed the online training.

Furthermore, 37 per cent of drivers had more than 12 hours of continuous driving time, with some drivers working for up to 17 hours without a break.

While an Uber spokesperson said the “overwhelming majority” of reports related to minor matters, such as minor collisions, the TWU called on the government to put in place an independent body with the power to tackle the root causes of safety breaches.

The TWU said Uber has a history of failing to report serious incidents, including last year when it covered up the death of an UberEats delivery rider killed on the job by claiming he was not working, despite the rider being logged in to Uber’s app and receiving order requests even after he had died.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said Federal regulation of the industry is the only way to prevent deaths and injuries:

“Once again we have a response from the NSW Government which largely lets Uber off the hook and is too late to the party,” he said.

“The safety breaches uncovered are serious, alarming in number, and put lives in danger, but the fine is a slap on the wrist that won’t even register a blip on the Uber balance sheet.

“Uber controls how, where and when drivers work, but it’s taking no responsibility for the safety of drivers or the community.

“Transport workers need an independent body to hear disputes with companies, and establish and enforce appropriate standards, pay and conditions.”

In April, the TWU and its food delivery rider members withdrew from an NSW Government Taskforce set up after a spate of worker deaths over its sustained silencing of riders on exploitation and insistence that regulatory change was ‘beyond the scope’.

In November, a Centre for Work Health and Safety report stated time pressures and low earnings were the two leading causes of unsafe behaviour.