Amazon drivers admit to speeding due to tight delivery schedule

Staff contracted to agencies enlisted by Amazon Logistics also claim they are being underpaid due to long hours worked

Amazon delivery drivers admitted breaking speed limits and said they did not always have time for toilet breaks because of the pressure to stay on schedule, according to a BBC investigation.

Drivers for companies contracted to work for the online retailer told an undercover reporter that they were expected to deliver up to 200 parcels a day.

The report also claimed some drivers said they were effectively paid less than the minimum wage of £7.20, because of the long hours worked to deliver all their assigned parcels.

A spokesman for Amazon said: “Over 100 small and medium-sized businesses across the UK are providing work opportunities to thousands of people delivering parcels to Amazon 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 drive safely.”

An undercover BBC reporter took a job with AHC services, one of the agencies that supplies drivers to Amazon Logistics to deliver parcels.

The reporter worked for two weeks based at Amazon’s Avonmouth depot in Bristol, and claimed he worked more than 11 hours a day delivering parcels, which was against the law.

“Our delivery providers are obligated to ensure that drivers do not spend more than 10 hours per day driving,” Amazon’s spokesman said. “As independent contractors of our delivery providers, drivers deliver at their own pace, take breaks at their discretion, and are able to choose the suggested route or develop their own.”

Amazon said that over the past six months, the average driving time for drivers in the UK was 8.5 hours a day.

The reporter also said he was paid £93.47 for three days’ work in his first week, following deductions such as optional van hire for a week, and insurance. That was the equivalent of £2.59 an hour. He received the equivalent of £4.76 an hour in his second week when he worked four days.

The BBC said Amazon Logistics required agency drivers to be self-employed, and therefore not entitled to the national minimum wage (for staff under 25) and the national living wage (over 25) or employment rights such as sick pay or holiday pay.

Amazon said: “Our delivery providers have always been expected to pay more than the national living wage, and we recently clarified with all of our delivery providers that we expect drivers to receive a minimum of £12 per hour before bonuses, incentives and fuel reimbursements.”

Former driver Charlie Chikaviro said the pressure to deliver parcels left him with no choice but to drive fast. “I had to, the way it was designed. You’re going to have to do that. I had a few crashes ... but not bad crashes,” he said.

The Oxford-based AHC dismissed the BBC claims as “historic and based on isolated examples which occurred over a year ago”. It told the BBC: “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.”

The firm also said it took road safety and the welfare of its contracted drivers seriously and that drivers were free to choose when they worked.


Angela Monaghan

The GuardianTramp

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