UnionsACT recently made a submission to the ACT Government’s Taxi Innovation Review.
The review looked at the impact of new technology on the taxi industry, especially from companies like Uber.
UnionsACT holds that the emergence of app-based booking services does not excuse companies from their responsibility to workers and to the community. The ACT Government is well placed to ensure that any regulatory reforms to the taxi and hire car industry are fair, and improve the conditions of those workers that are currently operating in informal or sub-standard employment relationships.
Uber, like many of the app-based labour hire companies moving into the Australian market, are structuring their business model to ensure the workers using their apps are classed as contractors. This arrangement is a legal fiction and in substance results in insufficient protection for these workers. UnionsACT is concerned that app-based labour arrangements has the potential to undermine the living conditions of all Australian workers.
UnionsACT contends that far from being “innovative”, companies like Uber are using a new technology to revive outdated and adverse employment relationships from the 19th century. Although Uber refers to drivers as “independent contractors”, Uber drivers have few or none of the characteristics of a genuine independent contractor. A more appropriate term to refer to Uber drivers’ and other “on demand” workers’ form of employment is “on-hire employment services” where workers are covered by their employing company and work in a host organisation or on specific tasks.