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$16 PER HOUR to be sexually assaulted and threatened: Alleged life of a rideshare driver

TWU and rideshare drivers protest in front of Uber's Melbourne office. (Image: supplied)

Australian rideshare drivers and the Transport Workers Union joined a global protest outside Uber offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane on Wednesday to demand "fairness and safety".

Uber is preparing to become a public company in the US, which will raise up to US$9 billion and value the business at US$91 billion.

"Drivers around the world are getting ripped off. Now the loss-making Uber says drivers can expect things to get worse as it tries to encourage investors to buy its shares," said TWU co-ordinator Tony Sheldon.

"For drivers this is a disaster and means they will struggle even further."

A rideshare driver survey conducted by TWU last year showed 37 per cent had received threats, 10 per cent had been physically assaulted and a disturbing 6 per cent had been sexually assaulted.

This was in return for an average of $16 per hour of pay before costs like fuel and insurance were taken out.

"Rideshare drivers have faced deaths threats from passengers towards them and their families, rape threats, sexual assault, being punched in the face, held at knifepoint, had their car windows broken, their cars stolen and have received racial abuse," stated the TWU.

"They have been immediately deactivated from the rideshare apps when passengers leave wallets in their cars or when passengers make entirely false reports, destroying livelihoods. Almost two-thirds of drivers have had false reports by passengers."

Just this week NRL player Michael Chee Kam was convicted of assaulting a rideshare driver in eastern Sydney last last year.

An Uber Australia spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that the TWU survey was outdated, and referred to a Alphabeta report that showed the average Sydney driver receives $29.46 before costs and $21 per hour after costs.

"Violence is not tolerated and is in clear violation of our Community Guidelines. We publish our community guidelines on our website which outline the standards we uphold and how riders can lose access to the app including for discriminatory, racist or violent behaviour," the spokesperson said.

"When a rider or a driver-partner makes any allegation, Uber's 24/7 incident response team will investigate both sides and take any necessary action."

The Uber Australia spokesperson also mentioned that free on-trip accident insurance is now provided to Australian drivers, as well as a counselling service.

"We also recently announced new safety features, including an in-app emergency assistance button for all riders and driver-partners across Australia," said the spokesperson.

"We have a team of former law enforcement professionals who are on call to work with police 24/7 to respond to urgent needs and assist in investigations."

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