REPORT: Amazon Drivers Work More Hours Than Allowed by Law to Meet ‘Physically Impossible’ Delivery Quotas

At an event today in Chicago, Amazon employees from nearby fulfillment centers packed 2,000 care packages to send to soldiers abroad who are not able to come home for the holidays Friday, December 4, 2015. Since 2010, Amazon has shipped more than 12 million packages to APO and FPO addresses. …
Peter Wynn Thompson/AP Images for Amazon

According to an investigation by the Sunday Mirror, Amazon drivers are not treated any better than their warehouse counterparts.

The two hundred packages per day that Amazon drivers are expected to deliver are “physically impossible” according to one driver quoted in the report. Because of that, drivers for the multi-billion dollar online empire routinely exceed the legal maximum hours they should be allowed to work. They wolf down meals and urinate in bottles, some of them for as little as $200 a week — less than the United Kingdom minimum wage allows. This information follows previous reports on the terrible work conditions for Amazon’s warehouse workers.

The UK’s Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency has said that they will investigate conditions that one lawyer described as “almost Dickensian,” especially compared to the “magical adventure” advertised in Amazon’s television ads. Amazon, of course, does not employ these drivers directly. Instead, they command an army of third-party agencies, and schedule their temporally implausible routes through an app.

Drivers pay the costs of their vehicles, are minimally reimbursed for their fuel, and pay about $267 every week to insure their delivery trucks. Agency workers have said that — in contrast to Amazon’s claims of a sophisticated route calculation system — traffic and other delays are not taken into account. To meet their assignments for fear of future unemployment, they must exceed speed limits and sacrifice time to eat or use the bathroom. If they cannot meet expectations, the drivers face fines, pay cuts, and denial of future work.

The workers are labeled as “self employed,” protecting Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ wallet, and the tidy $2+ million he made per hour last year alone. Unfortunately for him, it sounds as if the abused workers are reaching their limits, and he may be forced to pay attention to their plight. GMB Union Legal Director Maria Ludkin said that while “employers might not like paying the minimum wage or giving their workers the protections they’re entitled to in the workplace,” it is “not optional.” Ludkin affirmed that “we don’t get to pick and choose which laws we adhere to and which we don’t like.”

For now, Amazon is trying desperately to wash their hands of the situation. In a statement provided to the Sunday Mirror, an Amazon spokesman asserted:

Over 100 businesses across the UK are providing work opportunities to thousands of people delivering parcels to customers. We are committed to ensuring that the people contracted by our independent delivery providers are fairly compensated, treated with respect, follow all applicable laws and driving regulations and drive safely.

Our delivery providers are expected to ensure drivers receive a minimum £12 per hour before deductions and excluding bonuses, incentives and fuel reimbursements.

Amazon further says that they “don’t recognise these allegations as an accurate portrayal of activities in our buildings” despite numerous eyewitness accounts, but that they “expect a certain level of performance from our associates.” This spokesman also took a moment to add that they “do not monitor toilet breaks,” which in the light of prior accounts, may have had the unintended side effect of discrediting his words.

…Or, perhaps, he neglected to account for the ones they keep in cages. For Amazon, that seems to be a routine mistake.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.


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