ONLINE retail giant Amazon is to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, it was announced yesterday, into the gig economy delivery service Deliveroo in the US. Amazon has come under fire over its horrific treatment of warehouse workers who are increasingly being replaced by packing machines.
New machines can pack boxes up at a rate of 600 to 700 per hour, or four to five times as fast as human workers.
The retail giant is now planning to add them to dozens of additional warehouses, which would mean removing at least 24 jobs at each facility. That would add up to more than 1,300 cuts at 55 US ‘fulfilment centres’ as they are now called.
It is a case of either work like a machine or a machine will take your job!
Deliveroo on the other hand offers its workforce none of the hard-fought-for rights won by workers in their trade unions over the last two hundred years of struggle, either in the US or here in the UK.
No holiday pay, no sick pay, no pension, no job security, and no fixed hours. Moped and bicycle riders are only paid per delivery . . . no deliveries, no pay!
The bosses of Amazon and Deliveroo are birds of a feather, pairing up to drive the super-exploitation of workers to ensure as many products get from their warehouses to customers’ front door as quickly as possible, to make as much profit as they can.
The exact amount that Amazon is to invest in Deliveroo has not been disclosed. However we know that it is the biggest investor, and that Deliveroo’s latest round of fund-raising totals $575m (£450m).
Deliveroo founder and chief executive Will Shu said he was looking forward to working with ‘such a customer-obsessed organisation’ like Amazon. The backing from Amazon gives Deliveroo a boost against rivals such as JustEat and Uber Eats.
And it is a cut-throat business, with the bosses cutting workers’ throats in order to get an edge on their rivals. And of course what happens in the US with Amazon and Deliveroo has consequences here as the battle to dominate the food delivery business in the UK has just moved to a whole new level.
Deliveroo now operates in more than 100 towns and cities across the UK, using more than 60,000 couriers. The mostly young workers have got themselves organised into a union and are fighting back!
They have joined forces with other gig economy workers and zero-hours contract workers, Wetherspoons pub workers, McDonald’s workers, Sports Direct workers. They have all joined together to strike together and fight together.
At Amazon warehouses, conditions are so bad that workers are leaving their job in ambulances. There have been more than 600 ambulance call-outs to Amazon warehouses over the past three years. Workers are literally collapsing with tiredness.
GMB, which has been trying to organise the workforce, is still not recognised by Amazon, a famously anti-union company. The union has launched a campaign called ‘Amazon: we are not robots!’
The GMB won a landmark judgement against Uber back in 2016 but the string of judgements, including ongoing legal action against a string of other gig companies including Deliveroo and City Link, while resulting in individual victories, has not halted the drive to turn millions of workers into ‘self-employed’ with no employment rights, and a working life of near servitude towards these multi-million companies. Far from accepting the judgements handed down against them by courts, these companies are fighting tooth and nail to keep the bogus self-employed status for their workers.
In February GMB won the right for Hermes couriers to have the option to become ‘self-employed plus’. GMB says: ‘This allows workers to retain the flexibility of self-employment (which many of our courier members want) while also giving them the certainty of guaranteed levels of earning, holiday pay and a a recognised union in their workplace.’
This type of compromise with the bosses is not what workers want. Deliveroo workers will join forces with Amazon workers and all gig-economy and zero-hours workers will rise up against their exploitation in strike action. A whole new generation of young workers have come into the struggle determined to win their rights.
They will not rely on unions fighting court actions to try and win workers rights.
Workers rights have been won through struggle! Today they can only be defended through a struggle to remove capitalism with a socialist revolution! This is the way forward.