The horrors of working Amazon’s warehouse are infamous. Perhaps no place other than factories in China see worse treatment; rushed bathroom breaks, mere moments to eat lunch, exhaustion, burdensome quotas, and the constant threat of termination make life there a pure hell. As the Business Inside has written today, “Amazon is under fire again over the way it treats the thousands of people who work at its warehouses” thanks to an investigation that showed “600 ambulance calls to its UK sites over the past three years.”
A Freedom of Information Act request from GMB, a British trade union, has found that “115 ambulance calls” just to Amazon’s Rugeley warehouse location took place. Those who studied the abuse from Amazon say that they have “never seen conditions like this” before.
Three of the ambulances in England were summoned “for maternity- and pregnancy-related issues and three for major trauma.” Far more alarming, “14 calls for people with breathing problems, one call for the building being on fire, and two for electrocution,” findings have confirmed.
To put this into light, a “Tesco warehouse close to Rugeley” has seen only eight ambulance calls during this same time frame. Clearly, something dreadful is happening at Amazon.
GMB officer Mick Rix feels that the “something” is that workers are treated like robots, not like staff members. “Hundreds of ambulance call-outs, pregnant women telling us they are forced to stand for 10 hours a day, pick, stow, stretch, and bend, pull heavy carts, and walk miles — even miscarriages and pregnancy issues at work,” he stated.
“I’ve never seen figures like this — Amazon Rugeley must be one of the most dangerous places to work in Britain. Amazon should be absolutely ashamed of themselves,” he added. It remains to be seen if the Jeff Bezos led empire cares about anything but the almighty dollar, however.
Making targets all but impossible to hit and then demanding that they are hit anyhow is what Rix and others feel led to the miscarriage. Amazon, of course, disagrees. A spokesman for the internet giant said that it is “simply not correct to suggest that we have unsafe working conditions based on this data or on unsubstantiated anecdotes.”
They continued, “Requests for ambulance services at our fulfillment centers are predominantly associated with personal health events and are not work-related. Nevertheless, ambulance visits at our UK fulfillment centers last year was 0.00001 per worked hour, which is dramatically low.” This would seem to carry some weight until it is remembered that the aforementioned Tesco has number far, far smaller.
So do most warehouses, as a matter of fact.
One worker found out that she was pregnant and asked Amazon to move her. “I was told I could not be transferred and must continue picking, which involves bending, stretching, and moving a heavy cart, and walking miles.” she lamented.
Amazon said in response to this, “Once we know someone is pregnant we work closely with them and carry out a full risk assessment and, if necessary, consult a doctor. If the employee’s health or that of the unborn child is at risk due to the work that they are employed to do by Amazon, we will vary the employee’s conditions to alleviate all risk, or find the employee a suitable alternative role. We will, as a last option, place the employee on full paid sick leave.”
Their claims, however, don’t seem to be supported by facts and action.
The powerful, yet seemingly heartless, company has denied the claims against them over and over, yet all the stories match. Workers who have never met each other from different plants all report the same kinds of horror, yet everyone is supposed to just ignore this abuse and keep buying.
That is all that Amazon cares about, so perhaps, it is time that a few fewer purchases take place until some drastic (and well overdue) changes are made.