Amazon is facing more unionization woes – this time in Japan.
A group of 15 subcontracted drivers in Nagasaki, a huge city in the south-west of Japan, is protesting long shifts and the overwhelming number of deliveries without overtime pay.
They claim Amazon’s much-heralded artificial intelligence algorithms for imposing unrealistic deadlines and routes.
This week, the group joined drivers in Yokosuka, near Tokyo, who organized in June.
Amazon, which delights itself into improving operational efficiency, has been criticized for how its management tactics affect warehouse workers and logistics personnel.
As workers unionize throughout the world, the Seattle-based firm is on the defensive.
Amazon warehouse employees in Staten Island won the election, being the company’s first union in the US this year.
Tatsuya Sekiguchi, the vice executive chairman of Tokyo Union, which facilitated the two groups’ unionization, has commented on the issue.
He said: “The AI often doesn’t account for real-world conditions like rivers or train tracks or roads that are too narrow for vehicles.
“The results are unreasonable demands and long hours.”
Need Career Advice? Get employment skills advice at all levels of your career
He claimed many other groups of drivers who operate for third-party businesses but deliver for Amazon in Japan are unionizing and want an official labor contract with Amazon.
He added: “Given that they get orders directly from Amazon Japan through an app, they work for Amazon.”
A company representative said: “Amazon is not responsible for managing or paying the drivers, but works generally with contractors to set “realistic expectations that do not place undue pressure on them.”
Separately, in 2015, some full-time Amazon employees unionized.
A labor contract in Japan would guarantee the drivers better benefits.
Sekiguchi added that subcontracted drivers in Japan do not receive overtime or accident insurance.
However, they work 11 hours or more every day and bear the full cost of the trucks, including gas, vehicle insurance, and maintenance.