Anthony Albanese pledges sick leave for gig workers

Labor leader Anthony Albanese will pledge to extend sick leave to more casuals, gig workers and Uber Eats drivers as he launches a savage attack on Scott Morrison for being all “smirk and mirrors” on workers’ rights.

In a major announcement on the big policy area he plans to fight on all the way to the election, Mr Albanese will promise that the one in four workers in casual or insecure work will finally secure greater protections.

Despite Uber Eats, Deliveroo and other platforms being all about “convenience” Mr Albanese will warn the consequences can be deadly.

“Anyone who has ordered food through Deliveroo, taken a trip on Uber or used Airtasker knows that,’’ he said.

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“Beneath the surface we are seeing a depressingly familiar picture: workers scrambling for insecure jobs and agreeing to below minimum wage rates to perform work that’s paid by the piece.

“But in recent times we’ve seen the terrible consequences of a largely unregulated industry that puts unacceptable pressure on gig workers to meet the demands of an algorithm — five deaths on our roads over three months.

“Workers are being denied basic rights such as award benefits, superannuation, the right to collectively bargain and access to unfair dismissal protections.”

Uber Eats drivers, casual workers and labour hire workers will have greater rights to claim the same protections that full-time workers enjoy if Labor wins the next election.

In some cases portable entitlements to long service leave could also be extended to some workers.

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“Take Diego, a food delivery driver. He was sacked for being ‘late’ but never once was told that he wasn’t delivering fast enough,’’ he said.

“Or Rosya, who hit a car door while delivering food on her bike. Without sick leave, she had to return to work too soon after her injury. And then she was sacked because her injury was causing her to cycle too slowly. Again, Rosya had no recourse, no legal protections. The problem here is clear enough.”

Mr Albanese’s speech in Brisbane represents a serious attempt to reignite the politics of WorkChoices that helped defeat John Howard in 2007.

“I want to acknowledge the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic — the proud Australians whose work kept our country going and all of us safe,’’ he said.

“What a pity Scott Morrison doesn’t feel this sense of gratitude. Instead of rewarding you, Mr Morrison is cynically using the pandemic to launch a full-frontal attack on your pay, conditions and job security.”

Mr Albanese will also take aim at the Prime Minister flirting with the idea of dumping a legislated increase to the superannuation guarantee.

The super guarantee is the guaranteed amount your employer pays into your super fund as part of your salary.

Accusing the Prime Minister of working on a secret plan to rip off workers’ super increases, the Labor leader will promise him the fight of his life over the issue in the lead up to the next election.

“If Scott Morrison wants to stop it and force you to chew up all your savings in retirement, to sell your family home and not have income for unforeseen health or other events in later life, he’s in for a heavyweight title fight,’’ Mr Albanese said.

“The Morrison Government is clearly planning to repeal a legislated rise in employer superannuation contributions from 9.5 per cent of your wages to 12 per cent.

“It’s legislated. It’s needed. People deserve it.

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