A delivery driver who drops off Amazon parcels says he found bottles and bags of urine in his van when he starts work. He claims staff never take a toilet break otherwise they won’t be able to finish their round.
The driver, who works for one of Amazon’s delivery partners in Wales called AM Logistics, said that the working conditions were “horrendous” but he felt trapped because he didn’t have enough experience to get a job elsewhere.
Amazon is the biggest private parcel courier in the UK, sending out around 15% of the estimated 5.4bn packages in 2021. The US technology giant relies on a network of thousands of drivers across the nation, and works with delivery service providers. The workers are self-employed independent contractors who engage with the delivery service providers.
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According to the delivery driver, the pressure to complete their route of deliveries has left many workers in difficult situations. In response, Amazon said that they “continue to innovate in order to improve the experience” for their delivery drivers.
AM Logistics Ltd said they have established “data-driven processes” to ensure all drivers are set the appropriate workloads and take the required breaks every day. Speaking to Wales Online, the delivery driver said they joined the service after being furloughed in their previous job.
“At the beginning, it was okay because it was summertime,” they said. “But literally, it’s getting worse and worse because they are putting so much onto us – the quantity, the stops, the amount of parcels, and the conditions of the vans.”
Delivery drivers distributing Amazon parcels follow work instructions on their app. It provides them with information including route calculations. According to Amazon, the route calculations include the time to load the van in the morning and debrief at the end of the day. But the delivery driver claims the route calculation causes added pressure to the workforce, so much so that it affects their working conditions.
He said: “A year ago, it would be around 140 stops and around 230 parcels. But now, we are doing minimum of 180-184 stops with 300 parcels. I run everyday – you physically can’t stop. If you do, you fall behind – the managers are onto the phone with you asking you why you’re behind or why the van has been parked up for three to four minutes.
“I’ll walk to the van in the morning and there are bottles or bags of urine there. You can’t stop and you can never take a break, even though the app prompts you to take a half hour break after three hours of I can honestly say, most of the drivers don’t take a break because they don’t have the time to take it.
“This is why they are urinating in vans. I can only speak for myself but I will try and limit how much I drink because I don’t have time to find restrooms. On top of that, as seen in the photos, seatbelts are left like that in every van.
“Seatbelts will only cover the shoulder because drivers don’t have enough time to put their seatbelt on and off between every stop. It’s horrendous – I don’t understand how a company so wealthy can get away with it.”
The delivery driver added: “After nine hours, the app will kick you off and sometimes if a person or customer hasn’t been in I will have to reattempt to send the parcels in my own time. If I take parcels back to the depot , they won’t let me work the next day and I won’t get paid for that next day.
“I know one person, who had nine reattempts to deliver a parcel at the end of their shift, the app had kicked them off and they couldn’t find the addresses. They were on standby for two days and as a result lost two days ‘worth of wages.”
Earning £90 per day, the driver said they felt “trapped” in the job due to work instability. “I’m not an educated person, I feel that I can’t get a decent paid job,” they said. “Due to Covid, I feel it’s quite risky to go back into the trade I previously worked. I feel quite trapped and it’s difficult.
“I still need to provide for my family – I still need to bring that money home. Amazon will never run out of money and so if I do my route, keep my mouth shut – there’ll be money there for me at the end of the day and there will be work for me the next day.”
In response, a spokesperson for Amazon said: “We’re hugely proud of the Amazon delivery service partner drivers who do such great work across the country, getting customers what they want, when they want, wherever they are. We are committed to ensuring drivers are fairly compensated and treated with respect, and this is reflected by the positive feedback we receive from drivers every day.
“We continue to innovate in order to improve the experience for our delivery service partners and our customers. Drivers also have a number of ways to share their suggestions and experiences, including escalating any challenges to Amazon through a 24/7 hotline.”
A spokesperson for AM Logistics LTD said: “Alongside our partner Amazon, we have established data-driven processes to ensure all drivers are set the appropriate workloads and take the required breaks each and every day. We work directly with our contractors and provide additional help and support to ensure they meet the required demands within their allocated shifts.
“Since our establishment, AM Logistics Group Ltd has and continues to be advocates of the National Living Wage and we ensure that all of our contracted drivers achieve this fair level of compensation.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.