Amazon to grow total Australian fulfilment centre footprint to six by late 2021

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Amazon Australia has announced plans to open a second fulfilment centre in Melbourne, Victoria late next year.

With construction in Ravenhall, Melbourne already underway, the new centre, according to the global e-commerce giant, will more than double the company’s footprint in Victoria. 

“Our investment in this new Melbourne fulfilment centre will benefit customers around Victoria, while creating hundreds of jobs for Melbournians in a safe work environment, with competitive pay at a time when they are needed most,” Amazon Australia director of operations Craig Fuller said.

“This fulfilment centre will also provide additional capacity for Victorian-based small and medium-sized businesses who utilise the Fulfilment By Amazon service to benefit from our expanded capability and seamlessly serve customers across the country.”

When completed, the new centre will be 37,000 square metres, with capacity to house up to six million items from its online store.

It will bring the total number of Amazon fulfilment centres in Australia to six. The e-commerce giant opened its first Australian fulfilment centre in Melbourne in December 2017, followed by centres in Sydney and Perth in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

In June, Amazon also announced it would be opening a fulfilment warehouse in Brisbane and another in Sydney.

See also: Amazon announces four new projects to make its data centers greener

A report by the ABC identified that employees of Amazon Australia are constantly being monitored and timed to fulfil orders, with one describing the working conditions as being so extreme it made them feel “dehumanised”. 

“I feel like they resent the fact that I’m not a robot and that I’m made of flesh and bone,” the person identified as Amazonian One said. 

Meanwhile, David Gallagher, who is on workers’ compensation, was denied unpaid leave twice over a course of a month by Amazon, as reported by ZDNet’s sister publication, CNET. He was only granted leave once CNET had contacted Amazon.

Last year, the company dismissed claims that its warehouses would be fully automated any time soon.

Amazon robotics fulfilment director Scott Anderson told reporters that there was a “misconception” that the e-commerce giant would be able to run fully robotic warehouses soon.

“In the current form, the technology is very limited,” Anderson said. “The technology is very far from the fully automated workstation that we would need.”

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Transport Workers Union accused Amazon of underpaying Amazon Flex drivers, alleging that rates paid are “well under Australia’s minimum wage” when costs such as insurance, petrol, and maintenance are taken into account.

Amazon Flex was launched in Australia at the start of the year. At the time, Amazon Australia boasted it would give individuals the chance to earn money while delivering Amazon packages to customers.

Much like Uber, individuals are required to use their own vehicles, and at a minimum, are required to have personal car insurance and compulsory third-party personal injury.

While it is unclear how much individual contractors earn or whether Amazon will take a share of those earnings, an Amazon Australia spokesperson has described the allegations as “untrue and unfounded”, saying that delivery partners are paid a “very competitive” rate.

“We pay delivery partners quickly and provide them with transparency and certainty, as they know the minimum amount they will be paid for a delivery block in advance. Our delivery partners tell us they enjoy the flexibility they have to schedule delivery blocks around their existing commitments, helping them to make extra money. When the overall payments for the services are taken into account, our pricing structure meets or exceeds minimum industry rates,” the spokesperson told ZDNet.  

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