The TWU has lodged a claim for reinstatement of an Amazon Flex driver terminated with no notice or reason in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, as the union this week leads a delegation to Canberra in support of Federal legislation to end road transport exploitation.
Mr Jatinderpal Singh had worked as an Amazon Flex driver delivering parcels across Sydney since November 2021. On April 4 2022 Mr Singh found he was unable to log in to the app. Amazon has not responded to repeated requests for more information from Mr Singh and the TWU.
The matter is the first of its kind since a TWU-led application to expand NSW’s successful owner driver laws resulted in Amazon Flex drivers receiving minimum rights and protections – a world-first.
Amazon Flex is the behemoth’s gig-style parcel delivery model that has been rolled out in capital cities across the country. Drivers are allocated parcels within a set ‘block’ – often four hours – and are forced to rush to make deliveries within that window. Drivers are not compensated for additional hours worked to complete the heavy loads and can be disciplined – including with termination – if they fail to complete their deliveries within the allocated time.
TWU NSW/QLD Secretary Richard Olsen slammed Amazon for acting as if the law didn’t apply to the company.
“Jatinderpal has shown incredible bravery standing up and calling out Amazon for trashing the owner driver laws in NSW.
“Amazon has harped on for years about how it’s always followed the law despite underpaying Amazon Flex drivers for years. At the first available opportunity, it’s unfairly terminated a driver without notice or reason despite a clear, industry-wide determination preventing it from doing so.
“The successful owner driver laws in NSW that have lifted standards and saved lives for decades aren’t optional. Amazon executives living it up off the back of drivers’ hard work should pull their heads in, reinstate Jatinderpal today and commit to never pulling another stunt like this again”, Olsen said.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said Mr Singh’s experience demonstrated why gig companies could not be left to their own devices.
“Unfortunately, Jatinderpal’s story of unfair sacking is something we’re hearing from drivers across the country. While NSW’s owner driver laws extend rights and protections to Amazon Flex drivers, the patchwork of industrial instruments across the country means drivers are exposed to terrible exploitation and termination on a whim with no right of appeal”.
“Nine long years of Coalition inaction at a Federal level has left transport workers in the industrial wilderness; that ends now. We’ll be taking Jatinderpal’s story to Parliament House this week, as evidence of the need for the Federal Government to move quickly on its commitments to an independent body to set fair enforceable standards for all workers regardless of how they’re labelled”.
“Exploitation and worker abuse by these corporate bullies doesn’t end at State borders. Only by introducing such a system at the federal level will we finally be able to lift standards for transport workers across the board”, Kaine said.
Road transport is Australia’s deadliest industry, with pressures of underpayments, fatigue, speeding, and overloaded trucks linked to the low-cost contracts demanded by wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies at the top of the supply chain. While these companies crush supply chains from the top, gig companies like Amazon Flex are undercutting the industry from the bottom.
In 2022 alone, 104 people have died in truck-involved crashes – including 26 drivers.
Amazon has twice called the police on TWU official investigating safety breaches at its depots across NSW. An inspection on Black Friday last year found cars seriously overloaded with parcels, obscuring drivers’ vision of their mirrors and inhibiting their ability to work safely.