I'm not sure if there is anything analogous to the US Department Of Transportation in England, but we have to abide by pretty strict rules here in the USA regarding driving hours. A UPS driver cannot work over 14 hours on a shift, must have 10 hours between shifts, and cannot exceed 60 hours in a week without (IIRC) 38 consecutive hours before the next shift. That being said, we HIGHLY AVOID working drivers over 12 hours per shift, and try to take on a lot of extra help during the holiday peak season so that the work is distributed evenly.
From what I can tell from the article, these are probably inexperienced drivers who may be on their own in regards to organizing their delivery route, sorting packages on their vehicle, and learning their route. Because UPS has a centralized management system (as apposed to FedEx, for instance, which is contract based), we monitor every driver and can send other drivers to assist anyone who begins to struggle.
Its not unheard-of for UPS drivers to pee in bottles (and less often, poop in big plastic bags that are kept handy in the package cars). Its definitely not encouraged, but it happens, especially when you're on a rural route.
UPS drivers have it pretty good because of the collective bargaining that's available through the union. We're definitely going to have some rough days ahead of us for the next few weeks, but peak season is a big deal that we prepare for months in advance.
Other drivers will be covered by the GB domestic regulations. There are maximum driving times listed in the domestic regulations.
The flowchart here tells us which rules apply:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/drivers-hours-goods-vehicles/int...
> In any working day the maximum amount of driving permitted is 10 hours. The daily driving limit applies to driving on and off the public road. Off-road driving for the purposes of agriculture, quarrying, forestry, building work or civil engineering counts as duty rather than driving time.
Would you be able to answer how many packages the average driver delivers on a route and what happens if a package is stolen i.e who is liable?
Curious to see how often package theft occurs.
On my first day a package was stolen, and I got a stapled packet with all of the information that UPS knew about the package (when it was delivered, what location it was delivered to, where the truck was when it was marked delivered), etc. I have to go interview the person making the claim.
We aren't supposed to leave any packages that are of obvious high value, such as laptops, TV's, or any Apple product. Houses with a lot of claims will be flagged and required to always sign for packages.
Do you have any thoughts on that such as why Amazon would do that and if UPS would do something similar?
Packages? This time of year, 300-600. Stop count: 250+. Depends on center (how many extra routes over peak to absorb volume?), local labor market, etc.
> what happens if a package is stolen i.e who is liable?
There are 3 ways packages get left at your doorstep: consignee release, shipper release, driver release. First is relatively rare, 2nd is common among retailers of lower value stuff. 3rd means the company is liable, so various strategies are used to mitigate the liability: don't leave high value packages (absolutely never if it's valuable enough to qualify for the chain-of-custody tracking), buildings with reported thefts get DRs prevented for a very long time, etc. Quite a bit of driver discretion is involved in judging whether to leave packages; things like leaving it hidden/under a doormat are encouraged. IIRC Apple has some special setup and will never get released without a signature.
Also, business stops (which are a lot of volume) never get released without a signature.
Piss bottles and lunch breaks: piss bottles are extremely common, and skipping lunches is very common since it's unpaid (at least here) and when you're scheduled for 10-12hrs it's nice to get out 30min earlier. Difference between the UPS and Amazon drivers, at least based on the article, is a huge amount of pay - top rate before O/T is $30/hr+.
Basically UPS hires a lot of extra people to ride along with the drivers and deliver pacakges during the holiday season. The pay was decent for the work.
Basically what's happening is your local center can deliver X packages per day, with very hard limits imposed by DoT hour caps, and are dealing with X*N volume. If you need it faster, have it dropped at an access point (UPS Store) or have it held at the center.
I was once a FedEx delivery driver, so I don't know how it is for Amazon, but I would imagine it's similar?
At FedEx we got paid per package delivered, which means the faster you deliver your packages, the more you are technically getting paid per hour. In addition to this, you'd get a daily bonus for delivering the packages fast. We could take our lunches whenever, nobody cared as long as the packages got delivered. However, very few people ever stopped to eat their lunch. Most people would eat and drive. If there was a bathroom on your route, that's cool, but otherwise you are peeing in a bottle because you aren't trying to waste time searching for a bathroom when you could potentially deliver 4 or 5 packages in that time. All of this holds especially true at this time of the year, when guys are getting ran 6 days a week, with 200+ packages per day, and with the sun going down an hour earlier (night time delivering slows you way the fuck down).
Well what happens when you deliver so slow that you're making less than minimum wage? I don't know about Amazon, but at FedEx if you were so slow that you made less than minimum wage with your per package deliveries, you were simply paid minimum wage for that day's work.
Anyways, there are a lot of shitty jobs to have during the Christmas season but, in my opinion, this is the worst one of them all. The pay isn't bad if you have your route down; but goddamn you can't even enjoy the damn holidays because you're always on "go" mode.
Or should anyway. But nope, money first, people second.
On-topic: Workers' rights have taken a backseat due to aggressive lobbying for several decades, not least in the US.
Even in countries with very strong socialist foundations unions are hollowed out to the point where entire fields like IT feel like they have no use for them. Sweden is a good example: IT professionals are sought after to the point where they currently (rightly) feel like they have no use for unions, but when they turn out to be the new factory workers they won't have an already established base to unionize on.
Maybe I'm silly to worry, but I feel like this is all a pretty big mistake.
If you're in an industry where hiring costs are high (eg software) then it's often cheaper to keep staff happy than to recruit new ones. 'as little as possible money' is sometimes spending more now in order to save a larger sum of money you'd have to pay out on recruitment if someone left.
That said, I strongly suspect this is not the case for delivery drivers.
That's also how research/PhD programs work. Sure, you aren't forced to work like a slave and sure, you don't need to endure slave wages... But your supervisors and advisors tell you that's what it takes to get that competitive advantage in a very competitive field, and if you want to get ahead in life you need to have what it takes and be a team player...
This type of gig is just a means to exploit poor people by one of the riches, most successful companies on the planet.
I work at a place that has acquired ITIL religion for technology operations. Just like the minimum wage driver, it encourages bullshittery like this and wastes money to provide inferior service. Unfortunately, once you’ve found Jesus (aka metrics), the answer to all questions is more religion.
If you're assembling widgets at home, your throughput - and hence your workload and earnings - will be about the same from day to day and from week to week. If you're sick you don't earn money - but you're not otherwise punished.
On the other hand if you're delivering for Amazon, your earnings vary with their sales, which you have no control over. And if you can't drive due to poor weather or sickness? Sometimes you owe your employer money!
I agree it's not new for companies to structure themselves to incentivises breaking the law and unsafe behaviour. What the gig economy adds is transferring business risks like poor sales, bad weather and sickness to hourly paid employees also.
Am I the only one here who thinks "that might actually be fun for a little bit" --- as in, not doing it as a full-time job, but as in "playing a game" once in a while? It sounds rather competitive.
I used to work GrubHub for a year. I even moved up to the catering delivery but it still sucked. Let me try to explain why.
When you tip with your credit card through grubhub, 99% of the time it goes to grubhub and it never reaches the driver. Grubhub guarantees a hourly wage, but to keep your tips that you have to earn more then your hourly rate. This means the driver won't receive any tips until he/she makes themselves free for grubhub. Pretty ingenious IMO, make the driver a contractor so you don't pay payroll tax, and the drivers basically work to make themselves free for you to hire.
I'll break it down for you how it works because I was confused for a long while about how it works (which is probably by design).
You work 8 hours for grubhub. For brevity, lets assume in your area grubhub pays $10 a hour, the mileage they pay you is 25 cents a mile (from restaurant to customer only, you don't get anything driving to restaurant) and the delivery fee is $2. You deliver 10 deliveries during that time, your (payable) mileage is 40 miles:
You worked 8 hours, so your hourly wage is $80. Now lets see how much in tips you need to make before you can start keeping your tips!
Delivery fees - $20 Mileage - $10
You would need to make $50 in tips to start actually getting your tips.
Now I'm getting a new pizza delivery job where the hourly rate is a couple bucks an hour lower, so my hourly rate in this example would be $8, so while I would only make $64 dollars from my hourly rate, I get to keep my delivery fees, mileage, and tips on top of that.
The Grubhub I worked for spreads the work around so that people earn the minimum hourly rate. Why wouldn't they? it lowers their labor costs to near zero.
It's not that I want the tips, I really do think tipping is a horrendous system and it is "my fault" for signing up to work for them (I was incredibly desperate for money). I just feel it is disingenuous to call it a tip when it should be called a "please pay my driver's hourly wage for me" fund. I know that is basically what a tip is, but when someone tips me very well I have this sick feeling in my stomach because they wanted it to go to me not grubhub. That is why I'm left grubhub.
If you have to use grubhub tip in cash, or better yet just don't tip. I don't care I am making the minimum hourly rate 99% of the time. If grubhub can't survive without stealing the credit card tips from their drivers it shouldn't be around.
Source: I'm currently involved in a class action lawsuit over GrubHub's labor violations.
The companies compete with each other for more 'routes' each day. They offer to take on more work, to do more. And then they hire anyone they can to fulfill those routes. The drivers themselves are on contracts with the small companies that can end at any time. Not making your rate? Up to the small company to decide if you have a contract tomorrow.
The contracts themselves presume the drivers will deliver a route in a specific number of hours for a fixed rate of pay. But newbies work at a much slower rate. And during the holiday season, they need a lot of extra labor- a lot of newbies.
Who is to blame? Amazon? The companies? The drivers? Capitalism gone mad? Take your pick.
All of the above? But mostly Amazon. We need to stop letting companies get away with poor practices by blaming it on a contractor. Companies should be accountable for the behaviour of their contractors.
If Amazon wants to structure their delivery business around contractors, they have a responsibility to require the contractors provide good working conditions.
"Hello, can you have someone deliver this parcel for me. I'll pay you $5"
You're saying that if Amazon is asking that, they are responsible for the life of the person delivering it.
If I am asking Amazon that, therefore, does that make me responsible?
> If I am asking Amazon that, therefore, does that make me responsible?
yes. definitely. not entirely, but for sure to some small degree.
Swift delivery is changing our expectations. If I knew it would take a week to come I would plan ahead, instead I can buy on impulse. Of course the real costs are being externalised, on the poor drivers but also on congested roads and pollution.
One of the consequences: https://www.londonair.org.uk/london/asp/annualmaps.asp
and that's not limited to whether you know about their poor behaviour or not. If you see something that's too good to be true, like "free same-day delivery", it's up to you to question whether that's really something you want to support.
We complain about sweatshops making sneakers in abusive conditions but say cynical things like "... people don't have to take these jobs ..." when it comes to having parcels delivered right to our door so we don't even have to leave the house. I think it only fair we take a stand that these people deserve a decent living for delivering our (frequently frivolous) purchases.
The problem is that companies, Amazon and their contractors in particular, have been able to mischaracterize employees as "contractors" in order to get around minimum wage laws.
It's the lax enforcement of 1099 mischaracterization that has allowed the "gig economy" shit-sandwich jobs to proliferate. A deliver driver who has to maintain a delivery schedule or meet delivery deadlines given by Amazon (and in likelihood follows a programmed route given to them by an Amazon routing system) is in no real sense an INDEPENDENT contractor in the way that definition was originally meant.
Contractors are exempt from minimum wage laws because otherwise there would be a catch-22 situation if, say, a plumber you hired mis-estimated the amount of work involved in a job. (If he gave you an estimate that a job would be $100, and it turned out to take 10 hours plus $50 in materials, he could very well end up making below minimum wage. But he can't go back and squeeze you for more money; he's the one who gave you the estimate! But it hardly makes sense to penalize him again for not paying himself enough.) But these exceptions envisioned bona fide independent contractors, mostly skilled tradespeople, and not today's largely-unskilled and entry-level "contract" jobs.
You could call it progress though. And it is an example in which both regulation is needed and can be achieved somewhat.
And a fashion against labor laws. One of the great things about labor, safety etc laws is that they apply to everyone. Company X may not want to implement safety rule X because it will increase costs and make the competition cheaper. Perhaps all the companies X, Y, and Z want to do it but all are afraid. If the law mandates it none are disadvantaged relative to their competition.
This is an important kind of externality, really no different from the paint factory dumping effluvia into the river, but less frequently discussed.
Speaking about the UK, so apologies if the situation was different elsewhere.
From how I remember it, these 'respectable national couriers' were just not doing the job they were paid to do.
There was a 3 month phase when I didn't recieve a single next day delivery on the next day.
It is a very rare occurance now when I don't get an amazon package delivered on time through amazon logistics.
As soon as one company switches to self employed 'gig economy' compensation for their fleet, they get a big advantage in costs which means they can push prices lower.
The only way the competitors can match it IMO is by also switching to the same model, otherwise they lose contracts to the companies that do.
I think it's especially difficult in parcel delivery as the 'customer' is the store you order from, not yourself. So you don't really ever buy parcel delivery services yourself, it's always subcontracted.
Not really sure the best way to solve this apart from govt regulation, but feel it would cause all kinds of crazy side effects if not well thought out.
You can add 'customers' to this list since this is where it all begins.
It isn't so long ago that all people complained about was the time it took for stuff to be delivered and all those 'we called but there was no one in' cards.
So capitalism responded and now folks have something else to complain about.
Tomorrow if customers demand 10% of the existing prices are companies going to line up with slave labour conditions to deliver and then shift blame? Responsibility does not work like this.
No because we don't drag people off the street and force them to be delivery drivers. There is a level at which people feel incentivised to do this kind of work and there is a level at which they look for something else.
That's why unions and governments pushed hard to regulate employment to protect workers during the last 150 years.
As it turned out, the two are not mutually compatible.
"Please allow 28 days for delivery"
A company has a moral responsability to ensure its suppliers do meet certain standards.
"the allocation and number of stops, and the volume to be distributed for any given day, lies entirely with Amazon."
Argh. If true, hopefully someone can verify the claims and raise some visibility.
I don't have any evidence as to the accuracy of this anecdote, but when I see those news stories about delivery drivers shitting on someone's lawn, this is right where my mind goes.
'That person probably had an insane deadline to meet and no protections ensuring that they get time for basic and universal human functions.'
For the piss-in-bottles, ask any random truck or delivery driver. It's more common than you'd like...
Unfortunately it seems like during the holidays the usual delivery guy isn't around and it's a chaotic mix of people.
While we are here, I hate that they are now making people deliver on Sundays. Every year I struggle more with the morality of the package economy.
I was shocked to receive a package from Amazon via USPS this past Labor day, of all days.
Quite depressing to see the continued erosion of rights workers fought for over the past century, to service one of the most powerful companies in the country. I've been trying to opt myself out of Amazon where possible.
Growing up in Las Vegas, working on weekends was I think, beyond even what you’d imagine in some tourist destinations, some of those are at least were seasonal. Imagine if your delivery person who you are concerned about, worked weeekends and also in the middle of the night on a swing shift, my parents did.
Were all the casinos great places to work because of all this? Absolutely not, some made Amazon look great. However, I observed:
- There were big differences in treatment of employees between different operators. The overall effort and concern they had, or did not have, overshadows any single issue. So it’s good to call out businesses, but to encourage the right behavior a broader set of metrics is better.
- Families can be healthy and thrive with weekend and shift work if it’s done right, without crushing overtime or 12 hour days, and if they are treated well overall. Things in life just happen at different times come to seem quite normal.
And why is Sunday delivery worse than Sunday work in a myriad of other industries, like retail or restaurants?
Also for holidays: my mother really appreciated being able to work Thanksgiving, Xmas, July 4th etc because others really wanted that time to be with their families‡ -- those holidays meant nothing to us (immigrants) but meant that when she wanted someone to cover for her for some other day everybody owed her a favor (plus as a bonus people generally try not to go to the hospital those days -- she was an M.D.).
‡ (or perhaps it's simply that I was such a horrible kid that she was happy to be out of the house).
In the UK this was the case until around 10 years ago. The local postman was part of the community.
Now we get random people with no local knowledge or connections. Hence letters and parcels end up at the wrong address or don't get delivered at all.
Working night shift isn't particularly appealing either, and residential streets don't have much traffic. UPS has a union who would oppose these changes I'm sure.
To be followed by comments saying 'that's just the Hermes delivery guy'
So this is a valid point, HN needs to find better sources that the Daily Mail. In light of this, here you go:
I recon certain sections qualify.
Y'know, the Amazon General Store.
Besides, I no longer trust Amazon to send me the actual product listed. The small retailers have been far more reliable in that regard.
(turn the sound down some before clicking the link though, it features screaming about important things for the right reasons)