Australian transport union accuses Amazon Flex of underpaying drivers

Transport Workers Union (TWU) has hit out at Amazon, accusing the global e-commerce giant of underpaying Amazon Flex drivers.

Amazon Flex was launched in Australia at the start of the year. At the time, Amazon Australia boasted it would give individuals the chance to earn money while delivering Amazon packages to customers.

Much like Uber, individuals are required to use their own vehicles, and at a minimum, are required to have personal car insurance and compulsory third-party personal injury.

When these compulsory insurance requirements are met, Amazon also provides delivery partners with Amazon Insurance Coverage at no additional cost, which includes auto liability coverage, third-party property damage, and contingent comprehensive coverage. But the coverage is only applicable when individuals are using Amazon Flex to deliver packages or return undelivered packages back to a designated location.

While it is unclear how much individual contractors earn or whether Amazon will take a share of those earnings, Amazon had assured that delivery partner rates are “competitive”.

“Our delivery partners are paid per delivery block rather than per hour and block rates vary depending on a range of different factors, including time of day and day of the week. The delivery partner knows the estimated duration and payment for each block before they accept it on the Amazon Flex app,” an Amazon spokesperson told ZDNet during the launch.

However, TWU said following a financial examination of Amazon’s pay rates, it has revealed all Amazon Flex drivers are allegedly being paid “well under Australia’s minimum wage” when costs such as insurance, petrol, and maintenance are taken into account.

“For years, workers and unions have exposed the gig economy sham for its exploitation and dodging of industrial and WHS legislation. Now here we have a retail giant that has profited immensely from the pandemic on a

Google contractor accused of offshoring jobs in retaliation for union campaign

Google contractors who recently unionized say their jobs are being slowly shipped to Poland. On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint laying out the allegations against HCL America, an engineering and IT contractor that works with Google in Pittsburgh.



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© Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge


Obtained by Motherboard, the complaint argues the jobs are being outsourced in retaliation for legitimate union activity. In particular, the NLRB says the conduct took place “because employees formed, joined and assisted the Union and engaged in concerted activities, and to discourage employees from engaging in these activities.”

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None of the affected workers are legal employees of Google, but they specialize in engineering and IT tasks for HCL. The contractors voted to unionize in 2019, organizing under the United Steelworkers union. According to the complaint, the company has failed to bargain with the newly formed unit and has transferred work previously undertaken by the team to offshore workers in Kraków, Poland.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Contract workers have been a significant aspect of employee activism at Google, including a public memo sent in March by full-time employees in March demanding better treatment for the contract workforce.

Temporary, vendor, and contract employees outnumber full-time Google employees, and typically face lower wages and less job security. In May, Google abruptly rescinded more than 2000 incoming contracts, citing cost-cutting measures spurred by the global pandemic. Because the workers were not yet under contract, the measures were not legally considered to be layoffs and the workers were ineligible for unemployment insurance as a result.

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