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MercadoLibre adds e-commerce delivery jobs for independent contractors in Mexico

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By Daina Beth Solomon

MEXICO CITY, Aug 25 (Reuters) - E-commerce platform MercadoLibre is adding courier jobs for independent contractors in Mexico, aiming to offer the positions in more than 30 cities by the end of the year and eventually in other countries to speed up deliveries, it said on Wednesday.

The Argentine company has ramped up its last-mile logistics network in Mexico in recent years, including a fleet of trucks and four planes, as it contends with tough competition from Amazon.com Inc and Walmart.

Earlier this year it began allowing people with their own cars to take on delivery routes in Mexico City, eventually expanding to five other cities with 1,200 couriers registered.

"We want to diversify our different models for last-mile delivery," said Omar Rodriguez, logistics director in Mexico, adding that MercadoLibre's independent contractor jobs pay close to 1,000 pesos ($49.50) per nine-hour route and let workers set their own schedule.

Mexico's minimum wage in most of the country is 141.70 pesos a day.

Amazon Flex offers a similar program in the United States, paying most drivers $18-$25 an hour. The e-commerce giant has faced criticism for using independent contractors rather than hiring employees with full benefits.

MercadoLibre said it is also expanding a program in Mexico to enlist small shops such as liquor stores and bakeries to store and distribute packages, paying a commission of up to 10 pesos per package.

More than 1,000 stores are registered to participate in 13 states in Mexico, and MercadoLibre said it aims to include stores nationwide by the end of the year. ($1 = 20.2020 Mexican pesos) (Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)