Any Sydneysider who forgot to meal prep their lunch (me) and literally couldn't leave their desk for one second (also me) were out of luck on Wednesday, as drivers from all your go-to delivery apps took to the streets in protest of working conditions.
Deliveroo, UberEats, and Foodora employees united in Surry Hills, calling for better pay and more protections. The snap action comes after all three companies recently switched to paying riders per job, rather than by the hour.
But it seems like the pay changes were just the straw that broke the... you know the saying. See, food delivery drivers already go without any superannuation or sick leave because these companies all employ them as "independent contractors."
"I'm fed up with just how poor the conditions have got," driver Josh Kluger told media at the protest. "It was great in the beginning and everyone was being paid a decent rate but it's just fallen to $7 an hour, no guarantee."
Others pointed to how dangerous it can be to make these deliveries quickly in a busy city, usually on a bike or scooter. "I've been doored twice. It sort of comes with being on the road. The Sydney roads aren't the best for bikes," Deliveroo driver Patrick Psotka said. "Maybe give us some benefits such as sick pay or danger pay when the roads are really dangerous, especially when it's raining."
Riders in the UK have tried to fight this loophole before, arguing that they are actually workers and deserve basic protections. But after hearing a case by Deliveroo drivers in November last year, the Central Arbitration Committee sided with the delivery companies. The case turned on the fact Deliveroo drivers can nominate someone else to do a delivery in their place without the company's approval. An office worker can't ask a friend to go into work to fill in for them, the thinking goes, whereas an independently contracted plumber can.
Back in Australia, unions are calling for the federal government to step in and regulate all these delivery companies to protect workers. But UberEats, Foodora, and Deliveroo aren't backing down from their policies, according to the ABC.
Deliveroo said its workers earn above the national minimum wage, and the company does give all riders WorkCover. Uber said drivers choose to work for them because "of the flexibility the app provides in letting them earn money in hours that suit them and their families." Foodora said "flexibility and an autonomous workforce" are appealing to its workers, dropping the term "gig economy" (please note that's the first time and only time it's been used in this article).
Follow Maddison on Twitter