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Amazon comes under fire for stress placed on its delivery drivers


An undercover investigation by the BBC for BBC Inside Out West (which airs tonight) into conditions as an Amazon delivery driver has shown that those working for one of the many agencies supplying Amazon with drivers can earn less than the minimum wage – and face huge stress in getting their deliveries done in time.
The investigation saw a BBC reporter work for two weeks delivering parcels from Amazon’s Avonmouth depot for Oxford based AHC. It found problems with handheld scanners that map drivers’ routes, incidents of driver speeding to meet deadlines and even drivers answering the call of nature in their vans simply because they were so under pressure to get their deliveries done in the time expected.

Drivers routinely did 11 hour shifts – a fact in itself which breaks the law – and were expected to be available at least six days a week. The undercover reporter was paid the equivalent actual pay of £2.59 per hour in his first week and £4.76 in his second. The lengthy hours required to deliver all the parcels assigned meant that several other drivers said they too were effectively paid less than the minimum wage, according to the BBC.

AHC dismissed the claims as out of date saying that they were “based on isolated examples that took place over a year ago.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 way of working,” said the company.

Amazon also denied it had a problem. “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,” the company told the BBC.

“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.

The company also said it had told delivery partners that drivers should receive a minimum £12 an hour for their role. “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,” Amazon told the BBC.

BBC Inside Out West’s undercover report can be seen on BBC One in England at 19:30 on Friday 11 November, and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

Image credit: Fotolia

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