Food delivery riders protest 'wage theft'

Greta Stonehouse

A food delivery rider has told a Sydney protest his wages have dropped significantly over the two-and-a-half years he's been riding for one of the major delivery companies in Australia.

"When I started two and half years ago the standard contract was $14 an hour and $5 dollars a delivery," rider Matt told reporters.

"Those are now looked at as the golden old days. I now know riders that are doing $7 a delivery and zero dollars an hour - these guys are making $14, $7 or zero dollars an hour."

Wednesday's protest was held ahead of riders and the Transport Workers Union appearing at the Fair Work Commission's annual review of award wages.

The TWU argues companies like Deliveroo, Foodora and Uber Eats avoid paying their employees properly by treating them as contractors.

"Delivery companies insist riders are independent contractors as a way of denying them rights and protections," union national secretary Tony Sheldon told AAP.

"These riders do not operate as independent contractors since the employer controls their working life.

"They wear the company uniforms, they have set rosters and shifts and don't make any capital investment in their business operations."

Delivery riders on Wednesday joined the TWU in presenting evidence to Fair Work that they're poorly paid, aren't compensated when injured, don't receive superannuation and can't access unfair dismissal laws.

"I've fallen off my bicycle and smashed up my shoulder," Matt told reporters.

"I could barely walk ... so I took the next day off.

"I couldn't turn the light switch on with my right arm but I had to return to work the day after that. I just dosed up on Panadeine."

The major food delivery companies are practising "wage theft" and the Fair Work Commission should act to protect riders, Mr Sheldon says.

"Deliveroo, Foodora and Uber Eats are really carrying out wage theft," he told reporters.

"They're stealing from hardworking people, who are delivering to our homes right around our country, by underpaying them."