Freelance Amazon drivers launch labor union in Japan

A group of freelance drivers working for contractors of e-commerce giant Amazon Japan have formed a labor union to demand better working conditions.

The group of about 10 people met reporters on Monday. They work under contract for Amazon contractors and subcontractors in Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo.

They say that since their workload began to increase in mid-2021, they have had to work 13 hours a day with few breaks.

They also say they are working at the bidding of companies that do not consult them beforehand about which parcels they will be assigned to deliver.

The group is calling on the firms to address their long working hours or change their terms of employment so they can be paid for overtime work.

The union plans to ask Amazon to take stock of the situation and improve the drivers' working conditions.

A lawyer helping the group says this is the first time freelance drivers making deliveries for Amazon in Japan have formed a labor union.

One driver in his 50s says he cannot make decisions on his workload for himself, stressing that he wants Amazon and the contractors to improve his working conditions.

The companies all declined to comment.

Amazon Japan says it has been notified of the formation of the union.

It also says it has asked its contractors to ensure that delivery staff can work safely and maintain their motivation.

The retail giant says it does not allow contractors to hire their own subcontractors, adding that this is aimed at preventing unreasonable subcontracting arrangements.