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Turns Out The Bicycle Couriers Delivering Your Food Are Being Dramatically Underpaid

A survey has revealed they're being paid under the minimum wage.

wage theft bike couriers

The underpayment of workers in the gig economy — like bike couriers — has added another chapter to an ongoing saga in Australia.

We’ve known for a while now that the vast majority of food delivery bike couriers earn less than minimum wage — now it’s been revealed that they’re missing out on up to $322 a week. That number was based on a survey done by The Young Workers Centre, which works to educate young employees about their rights and empower them against exploitation.

They surveyed more than 240 riders and found that most are paid by delivery, with no minimum rate of pay.

Bike couriers should be paid an award minimum rate of $25.81 when classed as employees, but those working for food delivery companies are considered independent contractors.

A typical courier working 24 hours a week (including six hours at a higher weekend rate) would receive $681 if they were paid the award rate, plus $65 in super.

According to the Transport Worker’s Union, a series of unilateral pay cuts have led to a flat rate of $10 a delivery. Assuming a courier might make around 53 deliveries, this would give them a weekly paypacket of $530 — about $151 under the award rate.

However, new dynamic pricing systems have seen people paid as low as $5.90 for some deliveries.

Using the method of $3.50 per pickup, $1.80 per delivery plus another variable fee based on the time and distance of delivery, a bike courier might only earn around $424 a week. That’s about $322 less than the award rate, when superannuation is factored in.

The whole contractor vs employee debate has been going on for a while now.

It’s led to the Transport Worker’s Union calling for new rights and regulations for workers in the gig economy.

Last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman took Foodora to court alleging that their bike couriers should have been classed as employees. Foodora closed down their Australian operations while in the middle of the pay dispute, but did admit it was “more likely than not” that the vast majority of riders should have been classified as employees.

So next time you’re feeling too lazy/ hungover/ uninspired to cook yourself a meal and justify ordering in because it’s just so damn cheap, remember why.


Feature Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons