Home Money From Unemployment to Van: Amazon Rescues the Unemployed From the Pandemic

From Unemployment to Van: Amazon Rescues the Unemployed From the Pandemic

Yolanda Arroyo, a 51-year-old commercial, now distributes for Amazon; Ignacio Valía, a 53-year-old cook, now distributes for Amazon; Iván Sánchez, a 19-year-old teenager who had never had a job, now deals for Amazon.

These are some of the additions to the giant store that never closes, those that in times of confinement bring to your door the package with wine and beer, the rolls of toilet paper, or the set of dumbbells. Shopping has migrated massively to the Internet, and so are jobs. Amazon has become a lifeline for many people who have lost their jobs in the past month. Jorge Buiza, a new 37-year-old delivery man, breathes relief after losing his job as a locksmith. He is in charge of his seven-year-old daughter and had to continue paying for his apartment. “I couldn’t afford to go unemployed,” says Buiza.

Hiring of 175,000 New Employees in the United States

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus crisis has fueled sales for Amazon, which is recruiting at a dizzying pace. The company has announced the hiring of 175,000 new employees in the United States alone since March 13. A spokesman did not want to specify to this newspaper how many additions they have made in Spain. The only announcement in this regard was made by the company on March 18 when it said it would hire more than 1,500 employees. For their logistics network, they joined other qualified staff positions, such as data scientists or sales managers. But Amazon moves a good part of its business in Spain indirectly, through subcontracted companies or its Flex platform, where practically anyone can sign up to make deals with their own car.

Amazon delivery people move packages in the Coslada warehouse in Madrid.  

In a country highly dependent on tourism and hospitality, the distribution of packages is a relief for many unemployed. They are uberized workers, the derogatory term by which critics designate low-paying jobs for digital giants. But some previously uberized employees say spreading is relatively comfortable.

Manuel Garrido, 29, earns more and takes fewer hours than in his previous job as a Cabify driver. “Among the jobs there is, this is a luxury.”

An advantage is that it has allowed many unemployed people easy retraining.

It took Buiza two days to find a job. He will work for just over 1,000 euros a month with a work and service contract for one of the many companies that make deals for Amazon. They only asked him for a driving license and a food handler. “I have been very lucky,” he says. “I have several friends looking crazy, and they have already asked me for the company email to send their CV.”

But many companies that distribute products online have tightened their recruitment processes in recent years. Increasingly, delivery people must pass courses in customer service, technology management or legislation. “The figure of the delivery man is of great importance for being the only visible face in the entire e-commerce purchasing process,” says Daniel Latorre, administrator of Citylogin, a delivery company focused on online sales. This company has increased its staff of 250 employees by almost 15%.

Amazon does not reveal how much its sales in Spain have grown during the state of alarm. Various sources report tremendous growth in online shopping. According to the consultant Nielsen, online purchases of super products (food, drink, hygiene, and cleaning) have been growing week after week during the confinement. The last one for which they have data, the one from April 13 to 19, was made 286% more than in the same week of 2019.

But this bonanza has not benefited all the companies that are dedicated to distribution, according to the UNO employers. Many who made deliveries to stores or restaurants have not made new additions and have had to rearrange their templates for online delivery.

Logistics and warehouse have been the second category that has grown the most in percentage terms -39% – in the main job search platform only behind the healthcare sector. Logistics jobs peaked for the year with 5,693 jobs in the week of March 16 alone.

The fastest way to work for Amazon is Flex, a service allowed despite the fact that logistics operators claim that it is illegal due to unfair competition and risks to traffic. Amazon ensures that its system is in accordance with Spanish law. The dealers “hunt” the delivery routes offered by Amazon on their mobile phones. They charge 14 euros gross per hour and have to pay for gasoline.

Erica Taurisano, a 33-year-old dentist, found out about Flex from her friends. He charges a commission at four clinics in Madrid and can earn 4,000 euros a month. All that is over these days because now they only attend dental emergencies. As a Flex dealer, you can only claim a quarter of that income. “At least it helps me cover the self-employment fee and other expenses,” she says.

Erica Taurisano and her brother outside the Amazon warehouse in the Vicálvaro district, Madrid, before starting a deal. DAVID EXPÓSITO

Yolanda Arroyo learned about the service from her son, who has been using it for a long time to earn a small income while removing his opposition to the police. She makes deals while waiting to be called to rejoin her Kia dealer in Alcorcón. “This is not a job to live. It is a compliment”, values ​​his experience.

“It gives you little more than to eat,” says Óscar Carrasco, a 43-year-old publicist.

But many delivery people are dedicated to Flex exclusively. More and more are in need. New dealers who come from sectors with an uncertain future see themselves doing this for a long time.

Ignacio Valía had been a kitchen assistant at a hamburger joint since November. “I don’t know if they’ll call me again when they reopen,” he says.

Rogelio Escobar, a 39-year-old event producer, believes he will be making casts for a long season. “This has come as a ring to my finger,” says Escobar.

An Amazon delivery man loads the packages into his car before leaving from the company’s warehouse in the municipality of Coslada, next to Madrid.  

Dozens of delivery men like him wait with their cars in the parking lot of one of Amazon’s warehouses on the outskirts of Madrid, in the municipality of Coslada. The warehouse is a large supermarket product classifier from which Prime Now products are distributed, the same day delivery service that does not stop even at dawn.

Prime Now dealers these days encounter many novice shoppers who have accidentally discovered the convenience of shopping online. Some are older people who are bought by their children or grandchildren.

Food, drink, or cleaning was, until now, a barrier that electronic commerce had not broken. These new habits may remain when normalcy returns.

“This is going to be our future. It is as if he had gone ahead, “says Escobar convinced.

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