Amazon’s Fulfilment Centre lies have been catching a lot of media attention over the last few days. The world’s biggest online retailer was called out for posting false ambassador quotes on Twitter. Yet despite their size they fail to be the largest employer anywhere on the planet.
Their duty of care has been widely criticised as the company refuses to acknowledge responsibility for workplace injuries caused by negligence. It’s not uncommon for workers to find themselves a seven-minute walk away from a toilet (their Tilbury site measures 2 million sq ft). Not an issue in most cases but toilet breaks are timed to 10-minutes. Meaning some employees have reported having to urinate in bottles.
To provide a positive spin on warehouse working conditions Amazon appears to have hired marketing management company Sprinklr. Outsourcing PR is hardly groundbreaking but in this instance there’s something laughably dystopian in what’s being said.
Amazon have also encouraged people to compare its operations to other local businesses. Stating that they ” competitive pay and benefits from day one ” and that they have 40% fewer injuries than others within the indutry.
But, they’re nowhere to be seen on Forbes ‘Best Employees for Women’ in the USA. Even in Amazon’s home-state of Wyoming they’re outdone by Boeing.
And undercover reports found that, in the UK, their hourly wage falls short of the London Living Wage despite many workers being from East London. Their controversial points-based reward system is also still in place. Some people even speculate that real employees are being given points-based incentives to write glowing reviews on Twitter.
And it’s not just Amazon’s fulfilment lies that are a problem. Workers across the board have had to fight Amazon for basic medical rights.
Bigger Doesn’t Mean More Staff
While Amazon may be the biggest online retailer globally, they fall short of being the biggest employer.
Meaning employees are forced to work at unsustainable rates. Kezia Cole and Richard Hay, writers of Fulfilment (a play delving into the experience of Amazon employees), discussed condition with almost 70 workers during their research process.
“They give me 15 seconds from pick to pick… Do you know what you can do in 15 seconds? Can’t even register the thing you’re picking.”– Anonymous Amazon Worker
While the company’s use of emotive language gets people in, it seems they’re little more than words. Work stations positioned some distance apart, with the constant drone of machinery making it impossible for employes to talk to one another.
It was these sorts of reports that led them to opening their doors for tours. Allowing members of the public to witness the warehouses for themselves and form their own judgement.
Amazon’s fulfilment centre lies may be being uncovered, but that doesn’t solve the issue of unfair working conditions. Cole and Hay stated that after receiving a tour of an FC they confronted their own shopping habits. Having boycotted the brand for six months, they went on to say:
“The government won’t do anything because of the jobs, and Amazon won’t do anything because of the bottom line for its shareholders. And it’s all set up in areas of deprivation, so it’s not like you can walk out of one job into another.”
Fulfilment was shown at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019 between 1-25th August.
Read the latest tech news here.