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September, 25

Food delivery riders win back their jobs after striking deal with Hungry Panda

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Two food delivery riders say they have won their workplace battle with Hungry Panda to have their jobs reinstated following a pay dispute.

Riders Jun Yang and Xiangqian Li told the ABC the international food delivery company offered them their jobs back after they were removed from the platform last month following a protest over changes to pay rates.

The pair last month launched unfair dismissal claims with the Fair Work Commission in a bid to return to work on the popular platform targeting the Chinese-speaking community.

The riders had argued they were removed from the Hungry Panda app after they organised a small strike to protest changes to pay rates which they claimed disadvantaged riders.

Mr Yang said the court action, which was launched with the help of the Transport Workers’ Union, would no longer need to go ahead after Hungry Panda “reversed” his removal from the platform.

“After weeks of protests, meetings with politicians and negotiations with the company I have been offered my job back at the high level I had worked hard to maintain for over a year,” he said.

Mr Li said it had been “a tough few weeks but the riders and union supported us and this result is a big relief for us”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Hungry Panda Australia said the two riders were originally removed from the platform “after a number of customer and restaurant complaints”.

A motorcycle with food delivery bag on the back that reads: Hungry Panda
There are calls for stronger protections for gig economy workers.(ABC News: Jack Fisher)

The spokesperson said the company was hopeful it would soon reach an agreement with the pair to have their access restored to the app “as an act of goodwill”.

“It is our goal to help all riders maximise their incomes while also maximising their road safety,” they said.

The dispute comes as a NSW parliamentary inquiry examines whether new laws should be enacted to better protect gig economy workers like food delivery riders.

Last year, five food delivery riders, including Hungry Panda worker Xiaojun Chen, were killed on the job in Australia sparking calls for stricter safety measures and improved working conditions in the sector.

Transport Workers’ Union national secretary Michael Kaine described the reinstatement of the two riders as a small victory but said more needed to be done to protect gig economy workers.

“It’s a stark reminder of the desperate need for regulation in this country to ensure minimum standards and protections are awarded without underpaid riders having to armour up for battle with multinational tech giants,” Mr Kaine said.

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