EXPOSED: Amazon's dystopian workplace conditions

EXPOSED: Amazon's dystopian workplace conditions

With Amazon’s swelling fortune putting CEO Jeff Bezos’ net worth just over $100billion this weekend, as the online retailers’ Black Friday sales pushed its stock price up – this enormous wealth comes at a price. 

According to an investigation by The Mirror, Amazon warehouse workers have just nine seconds to process packages, work gruelling hours causing them to fall asleep on the job, and are constantly reminded that they're being supervised. 

The expose found that one worker had to be taken to hospital after collapsing on the job, whilst others have suffered from panic attacks.

A Mirror reporter spent five weeks at the firm’s newest warehouse in Tilbury, Essex, and used a secret camera - bought from Amazon’s own website – to record the chaos. He found staff asleep, exhausted after working up to 55 hours a week, whilst others slept in tents and under bridges to get to work on time.

The reporter, who worked from 7:30am to 6pm, with just two half hour breaks, found that technology was a driver of the firms’ targets, with cameras monitoring employees, and screens reminding workers how many “units per hour” they have packaged and exactly how long each has taken.

One worker told the publication: “Why are we not allowed to sit when it is quiet and not busy? We are human beings, not slaves and animals.”

Whilst another said: “I expected it to be all modern and powered by robots in here, but my eyes are wide open now.”

Workers also complained about timed toilet breaks and impossible targets, with some drivers fined for early deliveries. Staff also alleged they were paid less than the living wage, despite targets expecting them to package 300 items an hour. The warehouse rules stated that new packages must be sealed and ready to go every 30 seconds - meaning 24,000 workers are paid as little as seven pence per item.

Staff also feared facing the sack for struggling to meet targets, and in the days leading up to Black Friday, missed performance targets saw many staff let go.

One colleague told the undercover reporter: “At my induction someone was asking why the staff turnover was so high here. It’s because they’re killing people. All my friends think I’m dead. I’m exhausted.”

Since October, the online store has been trying to fill 1,500 roles at the warehouse – which is the size of 11 football pitches. The size of the warehouse meant that workers walked at least 10 miles in one working day.

Whilst the firm has come under fire for its low pay and poor working conditions, a whiteboard in the plant for staff comments appeared to be the only change within the warehouse.

Amazon told the Mirror: “Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace with competitive pay and benefits from day one. We are proud to have created thousands of permanent roles in our UK fulfilment centres in recent years.

“We offer great jobs and a positive environment with opportunities for growth. As with most companies, we expect a certain level of performance.

“Targets are based on previous performance achieved by our workers. Associates are evaluated over a long period of time as we know a variety of things could impact the ability to meet expectations in any given day or hour.”


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Comments (4)

  • Diva
    Diva
    Mon, 22 Jan 2018 1:18pm GMT
    My partner has just finished working for them (seasonal) and has come home and told me stories about colleagues being exhausted. He is pretty fit but some of the things going on there need to be investigated. He received a warning as he put a food item that had become unsealed and leaking as "not fit for despatch". He was told to do this but they still gave him a warning and he had to sign for it !!! He complained and they eventually took back the warning. He was just trying to do a good job. They seem like the worst employer ever. I would never work for them - never say never but in this case I can say NEVER !!!
  • simon smith
    simon smith
    Tue, 28 Nov 2017 12:26pm GMT
    there are better places to work than here

    My friend works nearby at Dartford for a big supermarket

    they are lovely people especially the agency he works for I think they are NRS

    he gets paid on performance and works a normal week for high pay
  • Unhappy Customer
    Unhappy Customer
    Mon, 27 Nov 2017 1:11pm GMT
    Agree 100% , as someone who actually trades on Amazon the service is shocking .

    The staff try but you just feel they are completely overwhelmed .

    Amazon behave as bullies , they recently overcharged me by five times they had agreed .

    In summary I'm not surprised to hear that they mistreat their employees , given the way they treat their traders .
  • Max
    Max
    Mon, 27 Nov 2017 1:04pm GMT
    Seems that Amazon German, Italian workers protest on Black Friday, dubbed ‘Strike Friday’

    See the article https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/24/amazon-german-italian-workers-protest-on-black-friday-dubbed-strike-friday/

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