Amazon drivers and transport unionists celebrated a win against the gig economy last week after the NSW Industrial Relations Commission agreed to give Amazon Flex drivers a minimum rate of $37.80 per hour.
The new rate of pay will be incrementally phased-in starting from 1 March, beginning at $27.83 and reaching the full $37.80 per hour by 1 July 2025.
Michael Kaine, National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union, said the commission’s decision “will be felt around the world”.
“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 said.
“It’s entirely possible for all workers to have access to enforceable rights and protections, regardless of their employment status.”
Amazon Flex pays people to courier packages from its warehouses using their own vehicles.
Like Uber, the concept helps Amazon provide its delivery services with fewer overheads since drivers use their own vehicles and pay for their own costs like petrol.
As the name suggests, it is aimed at giving people flexible working arrangements where they can opt-in to deliver a car-full of parcels.
Prior to last week’s determination, couriers using light vehicles – like those used by Amazon Flex drivers – were not covered by the same enforceable rates in NSW legislation as drivers of heavy vehicles.
Amazon pays Flex drivers for blocks of time which the website says starts at $108 for four hours, ($27 per hour) although Amazon notes that “actual earnings may vary”.
An Amazon spokesperson told said the Transport Workers Union were trying to “grab headlines based on claims that are not true”.
“Amazon Flex delivery partners have always earned competitive pay as well as the flexibility to work when it suits them,” they said.
“Delivery partners in NSW driving a sedan earn an average of over $128 for a four hour block which already exceeds the new rates that will come into effect from 1 March.”
Screenshots posted to a Facebook group for Flex drivers show how the going rates for delivery blocks can vary to upwards of $150 for four hours’ work ($37.50 per hour), although that doesn’t include the cost of petrol, tolls, and travel time to warehouse pickup locations.