The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Amazon Italy:
Workers Protest Hellish Schedules

Apr 15, 2019

Translated from a revolutionary workers journal in Italy, called L’Internazionale.

Drivers for Amazon in Italy’s region of Lombardy protested in late February outside the company’s headquarters in Milan. They protested unacceptable scheduling.

The drivers work directly for contractors or even sub-contractors. Some are so-called independent contractors who pay sales tax on their own work. Like Deliveroo and Uber drivers, they theoretically can set their own hours. But in reality, to get orders from Amazon, they have to be available to work anytime. The protestors made it clear that the situation is oppressive, whatever their formal work arrangements may be.

Each of them must keep running all day long. The time for loading is very short and they must immediately speed away to deliver more and more packages. A driver might deliver 160 packages a day, which means an average of three minutes per package in an eight hour shift. They have protested before about management’s pressure. The shifts are set so they have no time to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom. The dispatching software does not account for accidents, traffic jams, or waiting for customers at their homes. The software reinforces speed-up. As soon as GPS shows a van stops moving, the driver is called.

Home deliveries entail walking up and down staircases. Many drivers are young, but how long can they keep rushing up to the fifth floor? And the employers pinch pennies on maintenance. The vans have bald tires, burned-out blinkers, and doors that don’t stay closed. Fines pile up. When the employers see a scratch on the paint, they dock the pay over 200 dollars.

The workers made themselves heard speaking out against these working conditions, the pressure, and the very low wages. Considering Amazon is owned by the richest man in the world, whose fortune tripled last year, their fight has only begun.