SYDNEY, AAP – Thousands of parcels are likely to be delayed in Sydney as couriers strike over their pay rates.

About 100 franchisees of Aramex couriers (formerly Fastway couriers), representing the majority of the company’s greater Sydney delivery drivers, are striking for 24 hours on Friday.

The Transport Workers Union says the couriers are fed up with “outrageously unfair” pay rates that earn them an average of $2.10 per parcel they deliver.

Central to the dispute is Aramex’s franchise model, which requires couriers to use their own vehicles and pay the associated expenses.

Aramex describes its couriers as “independent business owners”.

“This means our couriers have a vested interest in getting your parcel to you safely and as fast as possible,” the company says on its Australian website.

TWU NSW president Tony Matthews says the strike is the result of frustration among Aramex couriers who have been trying to negotiate fairer pay, while others have “gone pretty well belly up”.

Couriers are seeking changes to the way their pay is structured, with no “safety net” in place. However, Mr Matthews acknowledges the franchise nature makes things “a little bit complicated”.

“There is a minimum these guys need to be making … any business has got a cost base … all the associated insurances, if you’re not making enough to cover those costs you’re in a lot of trouble,” he said.

Couriers were also trying to make up the difference by working excessive hours and delaying vehicle maintenance, Mr Matthews said from a protest outside the Aramex Chullora depot on Friday morning.

Aramex franchisee Brad Gilbert said the company had increased what it charged customers and decreased what it paid couriers to deliver parcels.

“What we’re earning now is not what we were earning 18 months ago … we’re doing more for less and we’ve got drivers here who are genuinely struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

Mr Matthews said the company’s model was “nothing short of modern slavery on wheels”, with some couriers working more than 50 hours a week and taking home “just a few hundred dollars after costs”.

Aramex said it “takes a zero-tolerance approach to any form of modern slavery in its operations or supply chains”.

Its modern slavery statement identifies the risk of modern slavery in its operations and supply chains as “low”.

Risks that may arise include “migrant labour exploitation, equality, fair pay, excessive hours, safety and human trafficking”.

Couriers are also protesting what they say are exorbitant deductions for parcels that are not delivered.

Aramex also runs Blu Couriers, an Amazon Flex style delivery network “providing individuals the opportunity to work on their own terms” delivering parcels in their own cars.

Aramex has been contacted for comment.

Friday’s strike is the latest industrial action in the parcel delivery business in recent months, with unions staging strikes and other stop-work action against AusPost, StarTrack, and FedEx in the lead-up to Christmas.