Online shopping behemoth Amazon’s ‘gig-economy‘ delivery service has arrived in Australia amid growing concerns over industry workers’ lack of rights.
Amazon Flex launched on Wednesday in Sydney and Melbourne, and works like Uber Eats but for packages, with independent contractors guided by an app making deliveries for the global tech giant.
“It’s a really great way for Australians to be their own boss, and earn some extra money, and they can do it around their own lifestyle,” Amazon Australia director of operations Craig Fuller said.
“They can choose when they work. They can choose once a week if they wanted to, or they could do five times a week. It’s very flexible.
“And their time’s their own. So if they want to sit in a car and listen to an audiobook or some Amazon Music, that’s a great way to have some own time to do those kind of things.”
Amazon Flex has been controversial in the US, where it launched in 2015, with some drivers complaining of poor pay and working conditions.
Mr Fuller said the Australian pay scale was “very competitive” and Amazon’s process for paying workers was very transparent.
Growing concerns over gig-economy
Amazon Flex’s Australian launch comes as debate grows over the rights of gig-economy workers.
In October, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese called for a debate on improving protections and entitlements for gig-economy workers.
The Labor leader flagged new areas of reform he wants to focus on to tackle rising numbers of Australians working as Uber drivers, food delivery drivers, contract construction workers and other jobs who miss out on traditional protections.
Job insecurity is on the rise – and it doesn’t discriminate,” Mr Albanese said.
“According to the latest research one in four workers feels unsure about the future of their current job – and half expect it would be difficult to find a new one quickly if they had to.
“While many people take on casual or similar styles of work for lifestyle or other reasons, others – compelled by financial necessity – have little choice.”
ACTU secretary Sally McManus told The New Daily gig-economy and casual workers “don’t have equal rights and too many are given no choice”.
“Permanent jobs have been systematically converted into casual gig jobs,” she said.
“It’s great to see the Opposition Leader committed to addressing this. Scott Morrison has no understanding of the problems and no solution.”
Who can work for Amazon Flex?
Anyone with a four-door vehicle who passes a background check and gets an ABN can sign up for four-hour “blocks” using the Flex app, Mr Fuller said.
“It’s easy to use and easy to be involved in,” he said.
Amazon said that Flex will supplement, rather than supplant, the company’s existing delivery network, which involves Australia Post and couriers Toll, Fastway and Ceva.
Australia is the ninth country to get Flex, which is already operational in the US, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, Spain and India.
Mr Fuller said Amazon continued to be interested in drone deliveries and the holdup in Australia wasn’t technology but regulation.
Amazon Australia launched in 2017 and Mr Fuller said the tech giant was “very happy with our progress in Australia” and being part of the shift to online shopping here.
Amazon.com.au offers 125 million products across 29 categories, shipped from warehouses in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.