Food Delivery Worker Dies in Australia, Becoming Fifth Gig Economy Death Since September

Food Delivery Worker Dies in Australia, Becoming Fifth Gig Economy Death Since September

Another Uber Eats delivery worker in Sydney died on Monday evening, local time, after his bike was hit by a truck, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The unnamed man is the fifth death of an app-based delivery worker in Australia over the past two months, prompting questions about the safety of gig economy workers and what’s owed to the families of people who die on the job.

The man was reportedly hit by a truck in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills and emergency workers arrived at the scene around 6:40 p.m. local time. The truck driver was taken to a local hospital for tests, which are standard in Australia after a serious incident on the road.

The news follows at least four other deaths of gig economy workers in Australia rover the past two months, all of whom were immigrants.

  • Bijoy Paul, 27, died on November 21 near Sydney while delivering a McDonald’s order for Uber Eats. Paul, originally from Bangladesh, was in Australia working on a masters degree and was killed while riding a bicycle.
  • Chow Khai Shien, 36, died on October 24 while delivering food in Melbourne for the app DoorDash. Chow was driving a motorised scooter when he was struck and killed by a woman who was allegedly driving a stolen car, according to the Guardian. Chow, like many delivery drivers, had worked for multiple apps, including Uber Eats. Chow is originally from Malaysia and his family back home became suspicious after they didn’t hear from him in over a day. Chow’s sister has been in touch with DoorDash, according to a recent podcast episode of the Guardian’s AM, but haven’t come to terms about financial compensation. Gizmodo Australia has recently been informed that DoorDash has now come to terms about this.
  • Xiaojun Chen, 43, died on September 29 while delivering food in Sydney for the Chinese-based app Hungry Panda. Chen’s motorcycle collided with a bus and the bus driver has subsequently been charged according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Chen had a wife and two children, though they are ineligible for compensation because delivery apps classify their workers as independent contractors. A GoFundMe crowdfunding page was started for the family and has raised over $68,465.
  • Dede Fredy, 36, died on September 27, three days after he was hit while delivering an order for Uber Eats. Fredy, originally from Indonesia, was sending money to his family back home in what’s become a tragically common story for app-based delivery workers in Australia.

Local unions have called for app-based workers to receive more protections from Australian labour laws, and countless people have pointed to the disproportionate number of immigrants who are dying on the job. Students and other immigrants from overseas, like Bijoy Paul, have not been eligible for the Australian government’s financial assistance that’s been made available to citizens during the covid-19 pandemic. Financial strain has forced many to look for part time work in a struggling economy.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Monday. We’ll update this post if we hear back.

This article has been updated to reflect that DoorDash has now come to terms with Chow’s sister about financial compensation.

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