Amazon accused of “blatantly lying” to Senate inquiry in heated exchange

Amazon Australian executives have gone on the defensive after being asked whether the company is underpaying drivers by a third of the minimum recommended rate in Victoria.

In a heated exchange at a Senate hearing on Thursday, committee chairman and Labor Senator Tony Sheldon asked leaders why they paid Amazon Flexible drivers charge a minimum rate of $ 27 per hour while the minimum recommended hourly rate for owner-driver in Victoria is $ 40 per hour.

Amazon’s Michael Cooley dismissed the claim that the company underpaid drivers and said it complies with all relevant laws in all states in which it does business.

Mr Cooley said the average salary for a Flex driver is over $ 125 for a four-hour block. This works out to $ 31.25 an hour.

But Mr Cooley declined to answer questions specifically related to the document which sets out the minimum recommended rate to Victoria, saying he received the document two hours before the hearing and should have received it weeks ago. if its content were to become a line of questioning. .

Senator Sheldon accused the leaders of contradicting themselves by insisting Amazon Australia complied with all relevant minimum rates but said it could not answer questions about the Victorian rate.

“You are blatantly lying to me,” he said.

The Victorian-era schedule of rates and costs to which Senator Sheldon referred explicitly states that he did not set minimum rates that must be paid.

Rather, it describes a recommended minimum rate for an owner-operator to “operate a business on a sustainable basis”.

Officers did not bring a copy of the document to the hearing, angering Senator Sheldon.

“Can they send it to your iPhone?” ” He asked.

“Our office is almost empty,” replied Mr. Cooley. “Very few people have returned to the office due to COVID, people are encouraged to work from home.

“(We) are appearing before this committee on a relatively short notice and doing our best with what we have.”

Mr Cooley dismissed claims the company was distorting the market and risking the job security of other drivers by forcing transportation companies like FedEx and StarTrack to compete with lower wages.


Norman D. Briggs