New South Wales sets minimum pay for Amazon contractors
SYDNEY, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Australia’s New South Wales state ordered employers of freelance delivery drivers such as Amazon.com Inc to pay a minimum rate, a decision hailed by a union as making it the world’s first jurisdiction to compel the retailer to follow laws on such payments.
The measure, to be phased in over three years from March 1, requires companies which hire drivers with their own small vehicles to pay a minimum of A$37.80 ($27.20) per hour in Australia’s most populous state.
That makes the state, the headquarters of Amazon’s operations in Australia, the first place where the retail giant must pay wages to contractors that are set by law, the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) said.
“Gig behemoths are on notice: this is what happens when workers call out these dangerous bottom feeders and fight together for a fair day’s pay,” said the union’s national secretary, Michael Kaine.
“For too long the likes of Amazon have been able to exploit independent contractor loopholes to sidestep rights and rip workers off fair rates of pay,” he added in a statement.
An Amazon spokesperson said the company was “pleased to continue offering Amazon Flex delivery partners competitive pay as well as the flexibility to work when it suits them”.
Flex drivers with a sedan in New South Wales already earned more, on average, than the enforceable rate that would take effect from March 1, the spokesperson added.
The minimum wage ruling applies to all companies which hire casual delivery drivers with cars weighing less than two tonnes, according to the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission ruling, which was reviewed by Reuters. Amazon is the dominant employer of small car drivers with thousands of contractors in the state, the union says.
Shares of the $1.6-trillion company have nearly doubled in value over the past two years, as the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a rush to online shopping.
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