Amazon delivery drivers in the UK are asked to deliver up to 200 packages a day while earning less than minimum wage for agencies contracted by Amazon. The drivers reportedly have to keep schedules so tight they are forced to skip rest breaks and urinate in bottles, according to an investigation by UK’s Sunday Mirror. The report comes weeks after the newspaper reported on brutal work conditions at an Amazon UK warehouses. “If the drivers return to the Amazon depot without having made enough attempts to deliver parcels, or if they can’t work for any reason, they risk having their pay cut, being fined or denied future shifts,” reports the Mirror.
Dan Warburton, Sunday Mirror (Image: Roland Leon/Sunday Mirror)
The allegations surfaced after investigative reporter Dan Warburton spent a day with an Amazon delivery driver so he could experience the “impossible” schedules that often exceed their 11 hour shifts – a limit mandated by UK law.
The Sunday Mirror reports:
I hopped in a white van to spend a day with one driver and experience first-hand the intolerable pressures they face from “impossible” schedules.
Many routinely exceed the legal maximum shift of 11 hours and finish their days dead on their feet. Yet they have so little time for food or toilet stops they snatch hurried meals on the run and urinate into plastic bottles they keep in their vans. They say they often break speed limits to meet targets that take no account of delays such as ice, traffic jams or road closures.
Warburton’s report comes on the heels of a similar investigation by the BBC in November, which also found Amazon drivers working for Amazon subcontractor ‘AHC Services” were forced to work over 11 hours and earned less than minimum wage, while also having to urinate in bottles and defecate in bags.
A driver interviewed in the BBC investigation claimed that he had:
- Received a fixed rate of £110 per route, or set of deliveries, completed each day
- Worked more than 11 hours a day – delivery drivers are breaking the law if they exceed this limit
- Was told by an agency supervisor he “didn’t have to worry about a seatbelt” because “the police won’t stop” a delivery driver
- Had colleagues tell him they had to “defecate in bags” and “urinate in bottles” because there was no time for toilet breaks
- Was paid £93.47 for three days’ work in his first week, after deductions including optional van hire for a week and insurance – equal to £2.59 per hour
- Received the equivalent of £4.76 per hour in his second week when he worked four days
- Several drivers told him they were paid the equivalent of an hourly rate below the national minimum wage of £7.20, mainly due to working long hours to deliver all the parcels they were assigned.
As a result of complaints by Amazon drivers, the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency is investigating the situation. “As well as carrying out roadside checks and targeted operations we receive intelligence from the public,” said Matt Barker, an enforcement manager with the DVSA, adding “We take any allegations extremely seriously and fully investigate any concerns raised about drivers and operators breaking the rules.”
Meanwhile, the legal firm who led the charge against Uber’s UK operation is also representing seven drivers who claim agencies used by Amazon are mistreating them.
In response to the claims Amazon distanced itself, pointing out to the Sunday Mirror that they use subcontractors:
“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.”
An Amazon spokesman added: “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.”
Not to worry Amazon drivers – long hours and having to relieve yourself in plastic receptacles won’t be a problem when Amazon starts using driverless technology to deliver packages.