It’s another one of those stories that casts a spotlight on the so-called ‘gig economy’. Freelance drivers are commonplace these days whether for Deliveroo, Uber or various courier firms. And those involved with ecommerce delivery include firms such as MyHermes, others, and, of course, Amazon itself.
And Amazon, specifically, engages independent firms who make deliveries seven days a week under the Amazon Logistics banner. That’s an Amazon division that operates in numerous territories that predominantly contracts out delivery duties to private courier firms.
In this case the Amazon delivery drivers seem to have been doing their job and haven’t been paid. Some payments appear to have been made after the BBC investigation. You can read the report here. But there can be no doubt that it’s a fairly chaotic situation, there’s been some dodginess going and quite a number of drivers state they have been not paid their fair share of wages.
Amazon says of the case: “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.” There is no indication of what that means on a practical basis.
It’s difficult to make sweeping statements about this specific case without knowing more detail. (And I haven’t seen the TV programme in question.) But there is an aspect of inevitability that such things as this will sometimes happen. As a business of scale, and when a big firm engages a contractor, it’s frankly certain that one will occasionally go awry and suppliers will fail to provide the service they promise. It does seem that this firms isn’t a top-notch supplier with flawless cashflow.
And yet, all that said, the Seattle giant must know that it must make utterly sage choices when it engages a supplier to make Amazon deliveries that rides on its reputation. Perhaps this incident will encourage them to be even more particular in future when they strike a deal and engage a delivery service.