Food delivery drivers in Australia are making just $10 an hour after costs, according to a new survey

Delivery riders are making $10 an hour in Australia. (Matthew Horwood, Getty Images)
  • New data shows Australian food delivery riders are making just $10 an hour on average after costs.
  • 90% of riders told the Transport Workers Union (TWU) that they have seen their wages decrease during the pandemic, as more workers compete for deliveries.
  • Meanwhile, many say they are undersupplied with safety gear like masks and gloves, putting them at risk of catching and spreading the virus.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Business might be booming for food delivery services, but their workers are seeing even less of the spoils.

The average delivery driver is making just $10 for every hour they work after costs, according to a survey of hundreds employed in the gig economy. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) says its further evidence workers are being exploited.

“The rip-off of the heroes of the pandemic has been revealed through this survey. Companies like Uber and Deliveroo are continually slashing their pay, forcing food delivery workers to struggle,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.

In fact, nine out of ten drivers say they are actually making even less now than before. While food orders may have increased, the number of other drivers competing for jobs has dwarfed it.

As pay rates fall, 70% now say they’re struggling to feed themselves. It’s a cruel twist of irony that, at the same time white-collar office workers do their jobs from dining room tables, drivers have struggled through the pandemic to put food on it.

Not that it was ever glamorous work. One in three have been injured on the job, while more than half now say they don’t have enough gloves, masks or sanitiser.

“These workers are fearful about getting injured and they are fearful of contracting COVID. They don’t have enough protections or support,” Kaine said.

“It is a shameful indictment of our system that the workers who allow people to receive food while self-isolating at home and who help restaurants to stay in business are treated in this way.”

Platforms say they value their workers

However, platforms stand by their practices, saying they’re doing plenty to support workers during this time.

“On March 6 2020, Uber led the way as the first rideshare or online food delivery platform to announce a COVID-19 financial assistance package for driver and delivery partners if they needed to self-isolate,” an Uber Eats spokesperson told Business Insider Australia.

Uber says it has “directly distributed tens of thousands of disinfectants and sanitisers” as well as 1.6 million single-use face masks in New South Wales and Victoria, and has insured drivers against on-the-job accidents since 2018.

While Uber declined to comment on pay rates, rival Deliveroo said it was restricting the number of new riders signing up to its platform.

“Deliveroo has taken deliberate steps to protect riders’ earnings in what has been a difficult year. Despite hundreds of applications each week from people wanting to work with Deliveroo, we limit the number of new riders in order to protect the earnings of existing riders,” a spokesperson told Business Insider Australia.

The company also said its recent surveying of riders had returned a satisfaction rate of 80%.

New legislation could help equip drivers

However, such supplies haven’t convinced state politicians, it seems.

The NSW Opposition says it will introduce a bill to provide workers with a minimum of protective equipment, while Victoria’s government is asking for community input into how it regulates the sector.

It would be a small concession on the part of government. In the midst of a twin pandemic and recession, many don’t have any alternatives to the gig economy. Those who are temporary migrant workers have been excluded by the federal government from having their wages subsidised by JobKeeper, and they do not qualify for JobSeeker, despite the presence of the pandemic.

“Protective gear for all food delivery workers is a bare minimum – the federal government needs to stand up for workers in Australia and regulate the gig economy, mandating rights like sick leave, minimum hourly wage and the right to challenge and unfair sacking,” TWU NSW branch secretary Richard Olsen said.

With unemployment projected to hit 10% by Christmas, and JobKeeper support to be cut back, more workers are likely to turn to temporary work.

When they get there, they might be shocked by their new wage.


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