Drivers delivering Amazon parcels take home as little as £2 an hour
- Credit: Andy Cooper/PA/Jordan Craske
Drivers delivering parcels for Amazon have lifted the lid on working conditions, claiming they sometimes earned the equivalent of £2 an hour.
Andy Cooper, from Caister-on-Sea, started at a delivery company called KMI Logistics last autumn. KMI is one of several companies around Norfolk which are contracted by Amazon to deliver their packages.
The pay was £127 a day, according to his payslip.
However, workers also paid £207 a week to KMI to hire a van - regardless of how many days work they were given on their zero-hour contracts.
He left in January after work fell to just two days a week. It meant he was earning £48 for two days - once KMI took away his van costs.
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That is the equivalent of £2.60 an hour for a nine-hour shift, but he said days were often longer as drivers have to deliver hundreds of parcels a shift.
Another driver, who is still working at KMI and asked to stay anonymous, showed us a weekly payslip where he earned a net of around £30 for two days’ work, once van hire had been taken away. It meant he took home less than £2 an hour.
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He was paid £120 a day, or £13.30 an hour for a nine-hour day. The minimum wage is £8.20 for workers over 21. But he was not given enough shifts to meet the cost of the weekly van hire, which is taken directly from his payslip, and earn the minimum wage.
In response, KMI said drivers had the “option” to rent a van from them or go elsewhere. Amazon said it was “committed” to ensuring its contractors were fairly paid.
Mr Cooper, 56, said he asked KMI if he could rent a van from a different company, but claimed: “KMI seemed reluctant to allow this.”
The driver still working at KMI added: “I’m stuck because I can’t afford to get my own van.”
Mr Cooper said: “The two months leading up to Christmas were extremely busy and it was no problem paying for van rental.
“But since the Christmas period I’ve not been getting more than two days a week. There are a lot of drivers who are in this situation but all of them still have to pay full rental.
“I’ve asked KMI to reduce the rental or at least just pay for days that you work.”
The drivers also said they had so many parcels to deliver that they had no time for a toilet stop or lunch break.
"It says to take a break on the Amazon App you use but you never have the time to do so," Mr Cooper said.
The driver still at KMI added: “If you are fast enough you can eat at the wheel between deliveries. If you need the toilet you just have to go in a bush or in the back of the van in a bottle, that is what a lot of the guys do.”
He claimed the work was precarious with drivers only finding out late the night before if they were working the next day.
Mr Cooper also said he felt like he had to drive over the speed limit to meet targets, and was caught speeding three times.
“You may get 285 parcels to deliver and more than 170 stops in a nine-hour shift,” he said. “You worry about not being able to complete the route.
“I know the speeding tickets were my fault, but I was under a lot of stress to get away and start delivering.”
Both drivers also complained about drivers being marked down with what Amazon calls “concessions” when a customer complained about their delivery.
“You often get knocked off a day’s work,” the driver said. “But they don’t tell you what the concession is for.”
Mr Cooper said the concession can come weeks after the delivery has been made.
He added: “I have worked offshore for 40 years, all over the world and I've never worked in conditions like this.
“Surely, Amazon has to take some of the blame.”
A KMI spokesman said: “We work hard to provide a positive experience for the drivers we work with. As part of this we clearly communicate the availability of routes so drivers can plan ahead, we ensure performance expectations are manageable and, importantly, we ensure they are paid a fair day rate for the work they do.”
An Amazon spokesman said: "We are committed to ensuring that the people contracted by our independent delivery providers are fairly compensated and are treated with respect, and this is reflected by the positive feedback we receive from drivers every day.
"Drivers also have a number of ways to share comments or concerns, including escalating any challenges to Amazon through a 24/7 hotline, which works quickly to investigate any concerns.”
The fresh allegations sparked fury from Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis. “Amazon is often thought of as the archetype of a 21st century company, but in so many aspects it behaves like some kind of 19th century Scrooge,” he said.
“For well over three years, Trade Unions have been on Amazon's case about delivery drivers being made to work excessive hours and feeling huge pressure to drive unsafely due to workloads and insufficient and precarious pay.”
KMI Logistics was set up in 2016 and is registered to a house in Rackheath. It is owned by a man called Carlos Hopffer.
It said if any driver experiences issues “we will work with them to investigate and resolve”.
Similar complaints were made previously by Amazon drivers working for other contractors. An undercover reporter at the Daily Record in Scotland in 2018 found workers were threatened with the sack for minor errors and had to urinate in bottles in their vans because they couldn’t take breaks.
In 2019, the Observer newspaper spoke to three drivers who delivered for Amazon. They also claimed the unpredictable hours and transport costs meant pay could work out at less than the minimum wage.
At the time Amazon said: “Ensuring drivers have a safe, positive experience is important to us, and they have a number of ways to share comments or concerns, including escalating any challenges to Amazon through a 24/7 hotline, which works quickly to investigate any concerns and supports drivers.”
Amazon is hoping to expand its Norwich depot on the Sweet Briar Industrial Estate by creating a van park almost 8 acres in size.