Tom* started working for Amazon about three years ago as a delivery van driver in Norfolk. Since then, their rates of pay have been revised several times, including at least four changes since September. He and his partner will probably have to give up their hopes of buying a home together, because the money Amazon promised didn’t keep up.
“We are all constantly afraid that we don’t have enough money to survive,” he said. “It really is the most toxic industry.”
Amazon is the largest private parcel courier in the UK, delivering 15% of an estimated 5.4 billion packages in 2021 – the equivalent of more than 2 million items a day. They range from prime next-day delivery to the last mile of packages shipped thousands of miles away in China or India. Volumes increased dramatically during the pandemic, and the British economy reopened and competition for labor to meet demand last Christmas prompted Amazon and other employers to increase wage rates. did.
To deliver a service of this scale and complexity, Amazon relies on a network of thousands of drivers. Instead of keeping these workers on its books, it manages them through delivery service providers, small companies that handle groups of drivers who work as self-employed independent contractors who are paid vacation pay, There is no right to sick pay or “national life”. Salary”.
Now that the winter rush is over, Amazon drivers are raising the alarm, reporting a significant drop in pay and the number of shifts offered, while others say the price of gasoline to reflect rising fuel prices Payment has not increased.
Hourly rates average over £14.60 per hour , About £2 an hour less or 12% lower rates in October and November during Black Friday and the pre-Christmas rush. Some drivers say wages were cut in December and others in January or February despite a nationwide shortage of skilled workers.
Drivers say they have been asked to deliver 60 more parcels per day despite temporary “peak” rates introduced in October, despite them being given a pay cut equivalent to an average of £20.
Pavlina Draganova of the campaign group Organize said that while wages were returning to the same level as before the Christmas peak season, for many it still represented a cut in real terms.
“We are in a vastly different world now than we were last summer, and even though the pay is now the same [per hour] As it was then, it is the actual wage cut in view of rising inflation and rising petrol prices, which are likely to become more volatile in the coming months,” she said.
More than 39,000 people have signed a petition through Organize — more than 250 of whom are Amazon employees — by calling the online retailer review Pay the rates.
“As the delivery drivers we are exhausted, we have worked tirelessly through a pandemic only to come out on the other side and get kicked in the teeth,” the petition said.
Drivers say pay rates are constantly fluctuating – one driver has experienced five separate changes in day rates since September, while others had two or three adjustments in that time. Uncertainty makes budgeting difficult.
Many drivers who said they did not see a drop in daily wages compared to “peak” levels were getting one or two fewer shifts each week. Some said shifts were removed or introduced too soon, making it difficult to plan ahead.
Pay rates can vary radically across the country, as smaller groups of drivers are managed by smaller companies, known as “delivery service partners,” and not directly by Amazon.
Drivers make just over £14 an hour on paper, but many say they work longer than paid hours. They say the “nine-hour delivery round” does not include the time spent waiting for the van to load or handling undelivered parcels at the end of the day. While some drivers said their driving time was only eight hours, more said they were likely to spend 10 hours on the road, including traffic jams and parking lots such as redistribution and hold-ups.
Drivers also have to pay for costs such as insurance, van rental and maintenance, as well as parking tickets, which are often an unavoidable part of completing a job.
They get extra for fuel but say the per mile rate doesn’t always cover the actual costs, especially since fuel prices have increased. Several drivers said they received 21p per mile in fuel payments, but would need at least 25p per mile to cover their actual costs as petrol prices have soared during the war in Ukraine.
“As a single person I don’t think I can survive on this money,” Tom said in Norfolk. “They want you to be available to them seven days a week at the drop of a hat, but they don’t give you any guarantees.”
Sam*, another driver near Birmingham, Said: “In 2020, when we were serious [pandemic] Lockdown, I get £160 a day and after that it’s less and less. it’s hard work and they follow it [your progress on the route] On the computer so that you don’t have a minute break.”
The driver said his pay rate had dropped to £120 for at least 10 hours a day and he was getting fewer shifts one day a week. “We don’t know what’s going on with Amazon and if you ask a question you never get an answer,” Driver said.
Kate Robinson is an attorney at Leigh Day, leading a legal action by Amazon drivers who say they should be entitled to basic employment rights like national living and vacation pay. These have been denied because Amazon says they are self-employed independent contractors.
The drivers she represents have reported similar issues, with constantly changing rates of pay and rounds taking longer than they are supposed to.
“Rates are usually calculated on a nine-hour basis” [rounds] But in our experience most drivers will take several hours longer than that to load and redeploy goods,” Robinson said. “Some drivers are coming in well below the national minimum wage, along with the costs and hours worked. Because they are not classified as employees or workers, they have no right to be paid.”
Amazon said the latest pay changes were not pay cuts, but a return to normal rates after the peak Christmas period. It said it has taken action to support delivery service providers More than the increased cost of fuel.
“Delivery service providers provide incentives to drivers at different times and locations throughout the year to meet operational needs and this is clearly communicated to them at that time. To suggest the end of these incentives cutting drivers’ earnings is wrong,” Amazon said in a statement.
“We are committed to ensuring that those contracted by our independent delivery providers are properly compensated and treated with respect, and this is reflected in the positive feedback we receive from drivers every day,” the company said. Said used “sophisticated” technology to plan delivery routes to make sure drivers weren’t receiving and driving too many packages.
, Driver names have been changed