Behind the scenes of the distribution giant, at the end of the delivery chain, subcontracting companies play with precarious contracts and working conditions. Employees are mobilizing to assert their rights. A delivery man testifies.
Fast and safe… E-commerce and internet order numbers continue to follow exponential curves. And in this distribution market, the giant Amazon reigns supreme. In the Toulouse warehouse of the firm, route d’Espagne, it is a real hive that works day and night to deliver tens of thousands of parcels on time for ever more demanding customers.
But the medal on its reverse for an army of delivery drivers whose life is far from being a long calm river. At the end of the chain, these employees of subcontracting companies, specializing in the famous “last mile”, are under pressure. Extended hours, pay slips with variable geometry, phantom schedules and job insecurity…
Behind the scenes, labor law is not the primary concern of contractors. And more and more delivery people are sounding the alarm.
Cuttable and workable at will…
At the beginning of July, around forty employees of the company IDS Logistics demonstrated in front of the Amazon warehouse to denounce “illegal” practices. Today, drivers from the Expresso Courses company, one of whose five regional branches is in Colomiers, are mobilizing.
“We no longer count overtime that we are not paid for, explains Abdel, we don’t have a packed lunch, we have to skip breaks and you never know what awaits us, if we go work or not because the schedules are fictitious. Not to mention the company’s premises which are not up to standard”…Laid off and finally dismissed, in recent days, by Expresso Courses, like several of his comrades, Abdel has already seized the labor inspectorate. But the damage is done.
On the side of the two subcontracting companies called into question by the employees, it is radio silence and our requests have not had a response. Unlike Amazon, which highlights the code of good conduct imposed on its suppliers. “The delivery companies we work with hire and manage their own teams. We are intransigent on the fact that they must respect the laws in force, and ensure their deliverers fair working hours and remuneration, we explain to the management. We are attentive to compliance with the Labor Code and we investigate any reports of non-compliance with these requirements and we take appropriate measures if necessary”.
The hijacking of an application
Except that it is very difficult to control the uses of subcontracting. Abdel can attest to that.
“Normally, we use an application developed by Amazon which plans the rounds, the route, the number of deliveries such as the break time, one hour, and half an hour of unloading, he explains. To be sure that the break is respected, we no longer have access to the scan of the packages and the GPS is even disconnected.
Except that our employer asks us to activate the application of the break when driving, so as not to waste time, since they do not want to pay overtime”. Better still, if the delivery person has forgotten to activate the pause application, he turns into a hacker, coerced and forced. Because he is asked to change time zones to go back in time… and gain an hour. “On arrival, concludes Abdel, these are longer days, until the daily debriefing, at 8:45 p.m. every evening at the warehouse”. There is no doubt that this testimony will be of interest to Amazon.
Amazon: a precise process, but one that can be circumvented
Amazon works closely with its delivery partners to set realistic goals for these companies and their employees. Route planning technology is available to them, which takes into account various factors: applicable working hours, including breaks, parcel volume, number of parcels delivered in one stop, parking difficulties, the type of road traffic, the complexity of addresses, etc. All to help them determine how many deliveries a delivery person can safely make. “The vast majority of delivery rounds carried out in France are carried out before the end of a working day. In the rare cases where delivery rounds cannot be made within the scheduled time, undelivered packages are rescheduled for next-day delivery,” says Amazon.