A BBC reporter went undercover as an Amazondriver for Oxford-based logistics company, AHC services, one of the many firms supplying drivers to Amazon. For the two weeks that he worked there, he discovered that many Amazon drivers work for criminally long hours, and are paid below minimum wage.
The workers are expected to deliver 200 parcels each day, and work close to 11 hours each day. The system does not allow for traffic jams or ANY kind of breaks. While this means that drivers usually speed and jump traffic lights, it also means that they just do not have the time to go to the bathroom. Many of them carry bags in trucks, choosing to defecate and urinate inside their vehicle.
So exhausted were the drivers that Cody Cooper, a former supervisor, had to stop a driver who had fallen asleep behind the wheel.
"It was coming up to school time and there could [have been] a group of schoolchildren walking along... and he could have steered off," she said.
"I wasn't willing to live with that."
"Slacking" is just not an option for these drivers. Another driver confessed that he had had a few crashes, but not "bad crashes," because of speeding.
The reporter, whose name has not been revealed, was once told by his agency supervisor since the police won’t ever stop a delivery driver, he might as well not bother with a seatbelt.
The reporter earned around £2.59 per hour for his first week when he worked three days and £4.76 per hour in his second week when he worked four days. Both these figures were lower than the minimum wage of £7.20 (approximately $9). This was mainly because the pay for a day was distributed over long hours.
When contacted by the BBC, Amazon said that it working was committed to ensuring drivers drive safely and legally, and are "fairly compensated." The company added that it expected drivers to be paid £12 per hour "before bonuses, incentives and fuel reimbursements."
Amazon requires drivers to be self-employed, and does not have to pay them a minimum wage. But as a professor at Bristol University points out, these workers did not choose their own routes or rest and work days, and could not be classified as self-employed.
AHC defended itself, saying the claims were "historic and based on isolated examples which occurred over a year ago. Since then we have made changes to the way our checks are carried out and taken a number of steps to improve our ways of working." In the past six months, the firm added, workers had worked an average of between 8.5 hours and 9.1 hours.
The retailer could be questioned in the Parliament over working conditions.
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