This is how Amazon exploits its drivers

Amazon has repeatedly struggled with reports of poor working conditions. The parcel couriers are apparently also affected by this. Because a research association has now revealed on the basis of internal documents how Amazon puts its courier companies and their drivers under pressure.

More than one and a half million people were employed by Amazon worldwide in 2022. In addition, there are numerous indirectly employed via subcontractors – such as the delivery staff.

But in addition to the sometimes poor working conditions at Amazon itself, the employees of the subcontractors apparently also suffer from the pressure from the group.

Have for a research correctivethe Saarland radio and the North Sea Newspaper internal documents evaluated. These prove that the US group “encourages the exploitation of drivers”.

Amazon monitors every step taken by drivers

Although the parcel carriers are not employed by Amazon at all, but by “officially independent subcontractors”, the US company records every step they take. This is done via a smartphone app, the data of which is then “available in the worldwide Amazon system” and can be used if necessary, the research association quotes internal documents.

The use of this app is mandatory for the subcontractors. In Germany alone, the group works with hundreds of such companies. However, according to the research association, constant monitoring is not the only means by which drivers are put under pressure.

Amazon squeezes the profit margin

The internal documents show that “Amazon encourages the exploitation of drivers”. The US group makes its courier services “rigid specifications” and thus “restricts the entrepreneurial freedom of subcontractors”.

The pressure from above is then passed on directly to the drivers, confirm “several active and former subcontractors and courier drivers”. corrective, Saarland Radio and North Sea Newspaper.

Courier services receive these specifications from Amazon

Amazon refers to courier companies internally as Delivery Service Partners. Among other things, the research association was also able to view contracts between Amazon and these delivery service partners.

Among other things, Amazon determines how many vehicles a subcontractor must have and how much it should pay its drivers. Parcel carriers from other DSP companies should not be poached.

This restriction of entrepreneurial freedom has “signs of a sham work contract,” explains Manfred Walser, professor of labor law and private commercial law at the Mainz University of Applied Sciences. He examined the internal documents for the research network from a legal point of view.

According to Walser, “the subcontractors are systematically disadvantaged compared to Amazon”. This is particularly evident in the liability and termination rights that result from the contracts.

Amazon can also “unilaterally and at any time” adjust the remuneration of the courier companies. The number of existing transporters is also controlled in this way by Amazon.

This is how Amazon pays its courier companies

Amazon pays its subcontractors a fixed amount per available van every month. In addition, there is a fixed amount for each planned working hour per driver. However, overtime does not count here, Amazon does not pay for it.

The subcontractors receive ten cents for each package delivered. However, this only applies if your drivers work in uniforms with Amazon branding and the vans are also branded. If this is not the case, the amount is halved to five cents.

This is what Amazon says about the allegations

At the request of the research association, Amazon asserts that the company requires subcontractors to comply with the applicable laws. This means that the drivers are “treated with respect”.

In the event of significant breaches of contract or indications of illegal activities, we will terminate cooperation with the partner.

The US group also points out that the partner companies can “manage their business at their own discretion”. “The high number of delivery partners who have had contractual relationships with Amazon for several years proves the possibility of long-term economic success,” the group told the research association.

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