The Transport Workers’ Union Victoria/Tasmania has grave concerns about conditions for over 200 new workers at Amazon’s recently announced West Melbourne fulfilment centre in Ravenhall. This will be Amazon’s second fulfilment centre in Melbourne and will be nearly double the size of the MCG with the capacity to house up to six million items.
TWU Victoria/Tasmania Branch Secretary, John Berger, says that the conditions and safety of these new workers must be prioritised and Amazon must be held to account for the historical poor treatment of workers.
“Amazon have a long history of poor treatment of workers and breaking the law in Australia by failing to train workers on safety and by refusing to allow union officials to talk to workers. We have received reports of Amazon Flex delivery drivers earning just $10 per hour after costs when engaged by Amazon. When these workers question the company, it is common for the drivers to be sacked with little avenue to appeal the decision. Amazon must be held to account and operate within Australian working standards and the law,” he said.
In order to survive, Amazon Flex drivers need to earn over $40 an hour just to earn a wage that keeps food on the table. This kind of pressure undermines safety with companies like Amazon leading the race to the bottom in an industry already in crisis.
In addition to the approximate 200 jobs Amazon are creating at the new Ravenhall facility, it is expected that many Amazon Flex delivery drivers will be responsible for delivering the goods leaving the facility. Beyond the dangerously low earnings of Amazon Flex delivery drivers is the flow on effect for the broader transport industry. Amazon’s business model undercuts reputable major transport and logistics companies, safety and job security across the supply chain in Australia.
Amazon has long had a reputation internationally for being an anti-union employer by blocking union access to their sites and sacking thousands of union members abroad. Amazon has brought the same attitude to Australia with several instances already reported of TWU officials denied access to Amazon sites despite giving prior notice and holding right of entry permits issued by FairWork.
A Senate inquiry today will hear of Amazon’s substandard treatment of workers. The Federal Government tore down an independent tribunal five years ago which was investigating risks to safety in road transport. The tribunal was mandated to hold companies like Amazon to account over poor safety standards.