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Amazon drivers held hostage by algorithm, claims driver

Amazon Italy has rejected claims that delivery drivers are put under pressure by its algorithm, claiming workers benefit from national collective bargaining.

Yessi Bello-Perez

Technologist

Unleash Your People With technology playing an increasingly prevalent role in the workplace, how can companies set boundaries?

  • An Amazon Italia driver says he is being held hostage by the algorithm.
  • Amazon has denied the claim.
  • It comes after Amazon told US drivers: accept AI-powered cameras or lose job.

We are held hostage by an algorithm that calculates daily routes for us and demands an average of 140 deliveries during an eight-hour shift — that’s the claim by Daniele, a third-party delivery driver for Amazon in Italy. 

According to the Financial Times, Daniele — whose surname wasn’t disclosed — said he noticed hundreds of euros worth of traffic tickets being deducted from his €1,600 ($1,800) monthly salary last year.

Protesting in Castel San Giovanni —  a town and comune in the province of Piacenza — last week, Daniel said the parking offenses were a result of the company’s demanding delivery schedule. 

Amazon Italy has rejected claims that delivery drivers are put under pressure by its algorithm, claiming workers benefit from national collective bargaining. 

However, Daniele said drivers “are expected to deliver on package every three minutes. Of course we speed, or park the van on driveways, and then the company makes us pay the fines.”

The protest held last week was the first nationwide action among Amazon’s 9,500 staff in Italy and is the latest hurdle for companies in the gig economy. 

At the same time, prime minister Mario Draghi’s new coalition government is working with Spain to set up new regulations for workers and pushing for coordination on gig workers’ rights across the EU.

“I support the need to find some form of protection for these new types of [business] relationships,” labour minister Andrea Orlando, told the Financial Times. “This means helping to build an efficient and orderly system.”

It comes weeks after Amazon delivery drivers across the US were forced to consent to AI-powered cameras in their delivery vehicles or face losing their jobs. 

As previously covered by UNLEASH, the e-commerce giant required all its drivers to sign a biometric consent form, which provides it with information about the drivers’ location and movement, as well as collecting biometric data like facial recognition.  

Today’s news also follows on from a UK supreme court ruling which found that Uber drivers were workers and comes after fellow gig economy Deliveroo’s ‘failed’ IPO in London last week.

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