Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would sell at least a few hundred million dollars of his Amazon stock and grant it to Amazon workers if he actually cared much about them. He could also do a lot to improve working conditions at Amazon, but he is a prominent example of corporate greed in today’s world for a reason. The world’s richest person treating his exploited workers like garbage is truly an ongoing moral outrage.
Alan Selby went undercover at the firm’s Tilbury warehouse in Essex where ambulances are regularly called and where workers face the sack if they fail to pack at least two items per minute
Alone in a locked metal cage, 10 feet from my nearest colleague, a robot approaches from the shadows and thrusts a tower of shelves towards me.
I have nine seconds to grab and process an item to be sent for packing – a target of 300 items an hour, for hour after relentless hour.
As I bend to the floor then reach high above my head to fulfil a never-ending stream of orders, my body screams at me.
Welcome to Amazon’s picking floor. Here, while cameras watch my every move, a screen in front of me offers constant reminders of my “units per hour” and exactly how long each has taken.
This is the online giant’s biggest European packing plant, set to be shipping 1.2 million items a year.
As the UK’s top retailer, it made £7.3billion last year alone. But a Sunday Mirror investigation today reveals that success comes at a price – the daily ordeal of its workers.
I spent five weeks at the firm’s newest warehouse in Tilbury, Essex, armed with a secret camera bought from Amazon’s own website.
I found staff asleep on their feet, exhausted from toiling for up to 55 hours a week.
Those who could not keep up with the punishing targets faced the sack – and some who buckled under the strain had to be attended to by ambulance crews.
Across Italy and Germany staff have gone on strike, complaining of low pay and poor conditions.
And employees at UK warehouses have told of sleeping in tents and under bridges just to get to work on time.
Timed toilet breaks, impossible targets and exhausting, “intolerable” working conditions are frequent complaints. Staff have been paid less than the living wage, and it even emerged drivers had faced fines for “early” deliveries.
As experts warn of workers facing an increased risk of mental and physical illness, Amazon repeatedly promised to clean up its act. But a whiteboard in the plant for staff comments suggests it has far to go.
There were complaints of filthy toilets and breaks still too short.
One asked: “Why are we not allowed to sit when it is quiet and not busy? We are human beings, not slaves and animals.”