Despite ongoing claims of staff mistreatment and unsafe working conditions among its warehouse staff, online retail giant Amazon has reportedly ‘shuttered’ a programme that sought to spread ‘positive messages’ about the company on social media, through ‘paid and hand selected’ workers, new insight from the Financial Times has found.
The working conditions within Amazon’s warehouses have been a point of contention for several years. In November of last year, HR Grapevine reported that over a five-year period, November 2021 was the worst month on record for ambulance callouts to the warehouse locations, with an average of 67.
By comparison, April was typically the lowest month for such incidents, with an average of 24.
A spokesperson for the GMB Union, which covers Amazon’s warehouse employees, said at the time that the firm’s workers were “breaking bones, being left in pain at the end of a shift and getting barred from work for raising COVID complaints.”
Representatives from Amazon have repeatedly rebuffed the so-called ‘untruths’, stating: “Once again, our critics are using incomplete information that’s without context and designed to intentionally mislead" the spokesperson said, as reported by The Independent.
Yet reports from The Independent state that the company sought to change the narrative by employing internal staff to seed social media platforms with scripted positive messages about the working conditions.
The campaign reportedly began in 2018, and featured Amazon employees posting messages such as, “Everything is fine, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the money I make or the way I am treated at work,” and “I feel proud to work for Amazon — they’ve taken good care of me. Much better than some of my previous employers.”
What’s more, documents obtained and published by The Intercept last year found that fulfilment centre ambassadors received training on how to leave ‘no lie unchallenged’, and were coached to respond to complaints with messages such as: “No, that’s not right. I worked in an Amazon FC for over four years and never saw anyone urinate in a bottle”.
“The ‘ambassador’ programme was always a laughable attempt to minimize the abuses unfolding inside Amazon warehouses,” Sheheryar Kaoosji from the non-profit Warehouse Worker Resource Center this week told the Financial Times.
“The fact that Amazon is now trying to hide the fact that the programme ever existed shows that the company is taking yet another page out of the authoritarian playbook to guide its management,” Kaoosji added.
Amazon has as of yet declined to comment on the existence of the programme, or the move to halt the operations.