As I delivered orders around the Scottish Highlands, I saw how drivers with no guaranteed work try to make ends meet
This winter, with my own small business shuttered due to the pandemic, I was lucky enough to find work as an Amazon Driving Associate. I ended up delivering orders across the Scottish Highlands for about seven weeks. It was work, but not an actual job: my van may have had a notice in the front saying “Amazon courier (back in five minutes)”, but in fact my colleagues and I were self-employed, independent contractors. NGC Logistics, which hires us, has a contract with Amazon, creating two tiers between us and our ultimate, real employer. The reasons for this soon became clear.
Let’s start at the beginning. On a cold November morning, a group of a dozen or so gather outside a hotel on the outskirts of Inverness. Over two days we are given Amazon training, featuring Amazon protocols and Amazon branding. At one point a video clip of Jeff Bezos, one of the wealthiest men in human history, is played, giving a heartwarming story of his early struggles. The training we receive is not led by a human but by a laptop on a table, playing a recording of another class, with slides and video clips projected on a screen.