Amazon Flex expires

Amazon Flex : Sharp criticism of Amazon's private parcel delivery service

Online trading continues to grow rapidly. Last year, for the first time, more than 3.3 billion shipments were processed, 6.1 percent more than in 2016. The shipment volume has almost doubled since the turn of the millennium. And there will be more in the years to come. The Federal Association of Parcel and Express Logistics expects around 4.3 billion shipments in 2022.

A large part of this is accounted for by Amazon, because the group now has a market share of more than 30 percent of German online retail sales. In the meantime, Amazon is also increasingly taking the logistics into its own hands in Germany. To this end, the Amazon Flex service was launched last November, in which private individuals deliver packages for the US group. “Be your own boss”, advertises Amazon and attracts with earnings of up to 68 euros for four-hour delivery shifts. So far, the private parcel carriers have been active in Berlin and Munich. Around 100 drivers work for Amazon in this country. The group also offers the service in the USA, Great Britain, Spain and Singapore.

"No Uberization on the German Parcel Market"

But the offer also causes criticism. “There must be no 'Uberization' on the German parcel market,” says Pascal Meiser, union policy spokesman for the Left Party, referring to the US transport service Uber, which acts as a taxi alternative with private individuals. The conditions for courier drivers are already "miserable", says Meiser.

The service union Verdi also warns that Amazon Flex will further undermine labor standards in the industry. Due to the increasing competition, the large parcel service providers would also increasingly hire subcontractors, who in turn would pass on orders to subcontractors and "alleged solo self-employed". This would undermine specifications on working time rules and depress wages. For example, salaried deliverers who are paid according to the tariff receive 11.38 euros in Berlin. On the other hand, an hourly wage of up to 16 euros at Amazon Flex initially sounds lucrative. But drivers have to deduct the cost of fuel, car insurance or repairs from this. The bottom line is that around 10 euros should be left over.

Private couriers are liable for damage or loss

"With its new business model, Amazon is not only displacing regular employment, it is also shifting the entrepreneurial risk completely to private courier drivers," says Meiser. "For many drivers, it is unlikely to be foreseeable what personal risks they are taking on." For example, they are liable in the event of loss or damage to the parcel.

The Left asked the federal government in a small request for assessments of the risks and effects of the service. "The Federal Government currently sees no need for legislative action," explains the Federal Ministry of Economics in its reply. Regarding the question of whether Amazon Flex is compatible with the legal requirements, it says "the legal assessment is a question of the individual case" and must be examined by courts in the event of a dispute.

From the community

The mention of postal secrecy in connection with internet orders makes me smile. Even the interest in a product drives up a machine that knows more about you than you do yourself.

... writes user zuke

"The federal government must ensure that the density of controls in the booming parcel industry is increased and that bogus self-employment is effectively combated," demands Pascal Meiser. In addition, the requirements for all postal services, i.e. letters and parcels, would have to be aligned. “The provision of parcel services must also be subject to a license,” says Meiser. "It cannot be that, although postal secrecy applies equally to letters and parcels, almost everyone can deliver parcels at the same time without even having to have a license."

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