Food delivery tech company DoorDash has signed a pioneering agreement with the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) that sets out safety and fairness standards for gig workers.

Amid ongoing legal battles by global tech companies over the employment status of gig economy workers, the first-of-its-kind agreement between an Australian union and a delivery platform sets out six core principles as well as agreeing to enforceable industry-wide standards, set by an independent body, for gig workers.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the agreement between the union and DoorDash has developed over several months, and builds on the success of their 2020 COVID-19 agreement, which established core pandemic protections for workers.

“We believe that collaborating with DoorDash is an important step towards giving gig economy workers the rights and protections they deserve,” he said.

“In collaboration, the union and DoorDash have shown that with proper negotiations and regulation, workers don’t have to choose between flexibility and appropriate work rights and entitlements. This is the first step in protecting all workers, regardless of the label applied to them.”

Kaine said DoorDash won’t be the last gig economy business to see the logic of industry-wide standards.

“The future of work shouldn’t mean the loss of hard won rights, instead it should mean greater prosperity for all of us. A single worker shouldn’t have to go up against a gig giant via court in a hopelessly outdated system that sets them up to fail – we need new laws to secure rights for all workers and this agreement paves the way for delivering them,” he said.

“Lifting standards and providing minimum rights throughout the industry is the best way to enable fair competition and market sustainability while ensuring gig work is safe, secure and sustainable for all workers.”

DoorDash general manager Rebecca Burrows said the company has a role to play in advocating for independent workers.

“Work through apps like DoorDash appeals to many people because it can fit around their lives and other commitments, but we need to ensure independent workers can rely on clear standards and protections and access more benefits, without sacrificing the autonomy and flexibility they value,” she said.

“We’re pleased to be working constructively with the TWU, and value the decades of experience they bring in advocating for Australian workers including independent contractors.

“We are optimistic that we can together develop a framework that gives workers the ability to choose the type of work that suits them, and continues to provide workers access to income when and how they choose, as well as the security of new benefits and protections they deserve.”

The ‘Statement of Principles to Ensure Safety and Fairness for Workers in the On-Demand Economy’ says:

  1. Workers should not be prohibited from accessing appropriate work rights and entitlements
  2. Workers must have transparency
  3. Workers must have the opportunity to contribute to a collective voice
  4. Workers must have access to dispute resolution processes
  5. Appropriate resources should be allocated to ensuring industry standards are established and maintained, and to driver education and training
  6. Three stage approach towards achieving regulation of the on-demand transport industry.

This article was originally published by Startup Daily.