Unions Flag Legal Action to Protect Minimum Wage and Combat Exploitation

In a new multi-pronged campaign against digital exploitation Unions NSW will organise a legal class action against job-posting website, Airtasker, unless it agrees to talks aimed at stopping the proliferation of work performed below the minimum wage.
 
The State’s peak union council, which represents 600,000 unionised workers, has launched a new discussion paper, Innovation or Exploitation? Busting the Airtasker Myth. The paper reveals that Airtasker flagrantly disregards the minimum wage and other core labour standards by encouraging workers to compete and underbid each other for bite-sized pieces of work. 
 
The discussion paper explodes the Airtasker argument that it simply facilitates independent contracting between workers and job posters. In fact, Airtasker actively regulates some elements of work performed through its platform, while simultaneously eroding pay and conditions.
 
For example, Airtasker provides mediation and arbitration of disputes, while providing no safety net baseline of pay, no provision of superannuation, no workers’ compensation insurance and no casual loading or leave.
 
Compounding this destruction of labour standards is the fact that Airtasker takes a 15 per cent cut of the fee agreed between worker and job poster.
 
“There is nothing innovative about using technology to undermine core workplace conditions such as the minimum wage, workplace injury insurance and superannuation,” said Mark Morey, Secretary of Unions NSW.
 
“Airtasker’s model is insidious. It not only undermines the conditions of those bidding for work, but also the wages and protections enjoyed by millions of other Australian workers. 
 
“The only thing workers are being liberated of is their right to fair pay, conditions and protection against workplace injury and illness. Airtasker is creating a superhighway to serfdom.
 
“We are seeking urgent talks with this company. At a minimum, we want to see the minimum wage and core workplace rights advertised at every transaction.
 
“Should Airtasker not agree to this very reasonable request, we will proceed with organising a class action against Airtasker, on behalf of the thousands of workers who have been paid less than their legal entitlement.
 

“We have also established an action group. This will build legal industrial cases when evidence is presented to Unions NSW of workers ripped off through digital platforms.”

The report is available at this link

You can look at the ABC story here

You can also view a story on this topic in the Guardian here

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