Following a major raid at Amazon distribution centre in Austria, ETF and vida call for supply-chain liability in e-commerce

5 Mar 2020

A large-scale raid at the new Amazon parcel distribution centre in Großebersdorf, near Vienna in Austria took place mid-February with more than 60 finance police officers blocking access to the site checking all vehicles on the move. The checks lasted several hours.

The distribution centre is foreseen to open only in April and has not even started its regular operations yet. Preparations are currently underway to stock the warehouse and carry out the first test drives.

The raid’s focus was not on Amazon itself but the subcontracted transport companies picking up and delivering goods from the Amazon distribution centre in the Vienna area. Amazon’s supply companies have long been suspected of using undeclared work.

In total, 174 employees at 36 subcontractors (transport companies) were subject to inspection. Violations of labour legislation were found in 49 cases and a bogus company with 20 employees was detected. The sanctions applied by the financial police reach up to €185,000.

The raid is only just the beginning. The financial police announced that it will focus more on bogus-self-employed delivery persons in the future.

Both the Austrian government and ETF-affiliated trade union vida demand that Amazon take responsibility for their supply chain.

Karl Delfs of vida stated “There is an enormous number of bogus self-employed drivers in e-commerce. They are used and abused simply because EU legal limits on driving hours and working time do not apply to them. Thus, it is only fair that Amazon is held responsible in the future if rules in the supply chain are breached!”

Bogus self-employment puts transport workers in a precarious situation and has very negative consequences as they are left without benefits such as sick leave that “employees” are entitled to. At ETF, we believe that this situation must be tackled head-on, and we welcome the Austrian government’s reaction. We hope that other Member States will take heed and that this will send a clear message to Amazon: they will be held accountable for their actions.