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Amazon Press tour witnesses police raid in Austria

By Chris Dawson February 19, 2020 - 10:21 am

When is a really bad time to get a police raid on your business? Possibly when it happens in the middle of a press tour and that’s pretty much what happened for Amazon Austria this week. It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for them on the timing when a bus load of journalists are having a warehouse tour at their Großebersdorf facility and the police burst through the doors and block every exit to prevent any runners.

It wasn’t the cops but the Finanzpolizei, literally ‘Financial Police’ an Austrian civilian police force run by the Austrian Ministry of Finance. The core task of the financial police is to carry out targeted controls in order to detect tax evasion, social fraud and the organised black economy. It wasn’t Amazon under investigation in the police raid but the hordes of drivers working for third party companies that they were interested in. 65 Finanzpolizei officers arrived and manned all six entrances to the Amazon warehouse checking all drivers that wanted to come in or out.

It turns out that the Finanzpolizei suspicions were correct and the police raid justified as, having checked 174 employees, they found Austrian labour laws were broken in 49 cases. There were 10 instances where third party courier companies owed money totalling €185,000 to the tax man and in one case a dodgy company with 20 employees hadn’t paid any tax since May and they owed €105,000.

Apparently many drivers were supposedly part time but the reality is they work a lot more than had been declared so driver rosters with number of items delivered were seized in the raid to determine how much income tax was under declared or not paid.

There has been a lot written about Amazon drivers, with suggestions that the pay isn’t that great and the pressure to complete deliveries is high. Indeed, Amazon have recently laid off companies in the US who they say were under-performing against their standards. However, there is no suggestion in this case that Amazon were complicit in avoiding their subcontractors paying any tax due.

“We are happy to work with the authorities. Our partners are committed to complying with applicable laws and the Amazon Supplier Code of Conduct. Amazon is particularly committed to ensuring that our delivery partners employ their employees in accordance with applicable law. We are taking immediate action against partners who do not meet these expectations.”
– Amazon

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