The Vast Majority Of Food Delivery Couriers Earn Less Than The Minimum Wage

Wondering why your UberEATS was so cheap? Here's your answer.

food delivery riders

Ever ordered UberEats or Foodora and marvelled at how extraordinarily cheap it is to have food couriered right to your door? Well, unsurprisingly, it turns out that’s because the people on the bikes are getting pretty severely underpaid.

A new survey by the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has found that three in four food delivery riders earn less than the minimum award wage for bike couriers, with many earning as low as $6.67 an hour.

The low rates of pay are possible because food delivery services tend to pay their riders per job rather than per hour, which means that wait times between deliveries or at restaurants while food is prepared often go unpaid.

These low rates aren’t just for the occasional trip, either. One in four delivery riders surveyed worked full time hours, and three quarters worked more than 20 hours per week, in what can be a pretty dangerous job. Almost half of those surveyed had either been injured while riding (bike, meet car door), or knew someone else who had. They’re pretty concerning stats in a job that provides no sick leave, superannuation, insurance or other entitlements.

“This is a damning indictment of the abuse of workers in Australia today,” TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said today. “Wealthy companies are engaging in wage theft, ripping workers off, leaving them without compensation when they get injured and not paying their superannuation.”

“The federal government may think this way of engaging workers is ‘exciting’ but the survey today shows the levels of exploitation which exist in the on-demand economy.”

The TWU is now pushing for urgent regulation of the on-demand economy, calling on the government to step in and ensure delivery riders aren’t falling through the cracks. Workers themselves are calling for fair hourly pay, rain gear or allowances for working in bad weather, and safeguards to ensure customers unhappy with their meals aren’t able to take that frustration out by giving low ratings to their delivery riders.

Anyway, if this is all news to you as customer of a food delivery service, sorry dude. Turns out there really is no such thing as a free (cheap) lunch.

You can read more about the survey results here, and sign a petition calling on the Fair Work Commission to step in here. There’s more information about the union campaign here.


Feature image by Franklin Heijnen on Flicker, used under CC BY-SA 2.0