Senate debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Statements by Senators

Workplace Relations

1:38 pm

Photo of Catryna BilykCatryna Bilyk (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

With Black Friday approaching, it's a good opportunity to reflect on how little has changed since a year ago, when several senators spoke in this place about the Make Amazon Pay campaign. In 2021, Amazon advertised a position to undertake global surveillance of their workers' union activity. That's correct—they wanted to undertake global surveillance of their workers' union activity. A UNI Global Union report described Amazon's surveillance program as 'a grave threat to workplace democracy and workers' rights'.

In the United States, complaints have been filed about multiple labour law breaches, after Amazon held compulsory anti-union meetings and stacked their workforce with anti-union members—all to defeat a ballot for union representation at their warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. In Australia, Amazon has rolled out a gig economy delivery model called Amazon Flex. Amazon Flex drivers face wage theft, unsafe conditions and unfair sackings. Police have been called on Transport Workers Union officials with lawful rights to enter Amazon Flex premises for safety investigations.

Fortunately, the Transport Workers Union won a case in New South Wales for Amazon Flex drivers to receive enforceable rates of pay. An Amazon worker in Sydney represented by the SDA recently received an out-of-court settlement after filing for unfair dismissal. She was called to a meeting two days after telling the company she was pregnant. At the meeting, she was told she was unsuccessful in her application for a permanent position because of low productivity and absences from work—claims she said were untrue.

I commend the TWU and the SDA for standing up for Amazon workers. Amazon can afford to look after its worker's safety, pay them a decent wage, give them job security and treat them with respect. After all, this is a company that turned over $1 billion in Australia last year and paid less than $20 million in tax. (Time expired)