Australian Economy

reportUber drivers prefer flexibility to 20pc pay rise

The findings come as Labor has promised to give the Fair Work Commission powers to regulate minimum pay and conditions for gig workers if elected.

While details are unclear, the policy will not classify drivers as employees but “employee like”. The Transport Workers Union has argued drivers can have both flexibility and standards of pay and conditions, but its claims for measures such as overtime pay may attract controversy.

Uber Australia general manager of rides, Dom Taylor, said the company’s report made clear that flexibility was the most important factor for workers.

“We believe that gig workers shouldn’t have to choose between flexibility and security,” he said.

Uber general manager Dom Taylor said workers “shouldn’t have to choose between flexibility and security”. Louise Kennerley

“Sector-wide requirements for platform companies to provide benefits, insurance and other minimum standards could help improve independent work and ensure a level playing field for gig workers.”

However, he said any reform should happen at a federal level, reflecting gig companies’ national footprint and “to align with our Commonwealth industrial relations framework”.

”We will continue to work with the government, industry and workers on reforms that provide stronger benefits and protections for independent contractors, while preserving the flexibility and autonomy that divers and couriers tell us is important to them.”

Overall, the report estimated Uber created $10.4 billion in economic value for the economy, including drivers’ earnings, restaurant and deliver partner revenue and the effect on the wider supply chain.

A study published this year and co-authored by star Labor candidate Andrew Charlton found Uber drivers in 2018 were on average earning the minimum wage with a 25 per cent casual loading once costs were taken out.

However, Uber drivers have complained that increased competition in recent years means they have to be on the road longer to earn the same pay.

Uber’s survey found its drivers still made on average 6 per cent more than their next best alternative source of income or work.

The estimate was based on asking drivers how much they thought they would earn a week in their next best alternative if Uber did not exist.

“In total, in 2021, we estimate that driver and delivery partners make an additional $456 million a year in earnings through Uber,” the report said.

Less than 30 per cent of drivers used Uber’s rideshare or delivery apps as their only source of income, the report also found.

Almost 60 per cent of drivers earned income from other sources and 19 per cent had a traditional full-time job.

Just 6 per cent used the rideshare platform for more than 40 hours a week.

For riders and consumers, Uber’s pollsters asked how much they would have to be compensated to lose access to Uber and UberEats apps for the next month, pitching anything between $1.25 and $500.

The report said the results suggested Uber and UberEats produced some $6.6 billion in consumer surplus – a term used to describe how valuable a product is to customers.

Uber also claimed credit for $889 million in additional revenue for restaurants and a gross impact of $8.4 billion for the Australian economy as a whole.

“After almost 10 years partnering with Australians we’re pleased to see our combined delivery and mobility businesses making such a significant contribution to Australians and the local economy,” Mr Taylor said.

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