Amazon has been accused of ‘dehumanising’ its staff to deliver products to customers.
Workers at the internet shopping giant’s distribution centres face disciplinary action if they lose a punishing race against the clock to track down items ordered by online shoppers.
Staff paint a picture of a stressful environment ruled by the bleeps of handheld devices – nicknamed ‘the gun’ – instructing them which items to collect.
Bosses are said to push staff so far past breaking point that they ‘practically combust’, while regular sackings to keep workers on their toes were described by one HR manager as ‘purposeful Darwinism’.
According to an expose last year, the company’s best workers are known as ‘Amabots’ – because they are so ‘at one with the system’ they are almost cyborgs.
In November shocking claims were made about the online retailer’s newest warehouse – which the company refers to as a ‘fulfilment centre’ – in Tilbury, Essex.
The packing plant is the biggest in Europe, the size of 11 football pitches, and is due to ship 1.2million items this year.
In November shocking claims were made about the online retailer’s newest warehouse – which the company refers to as a ‘fulfilment centre’ – in Tilbury, Essex
The investigation, by an undercover reporter for the Sunday Mirror who spent five weeks there, suggested workers suffer mentally and physically as they try to meet demand.
He said that some of his colleagues were so tired from working 55-hour weeks that they would ‘sleep on their feet’.
‘Those who could not keep up with the punishing targets faced the sack – and some who buckled under the strain had to be attended by ambulance crews,’ he added.
Just the following month it emerged Amazon delivery drivers are asked to drop off up to 200 packages a day, are paid less than minimum wage and urinate in bottles because there’s no time to take a break
Legal firm Leigh Day, which led a case against taxi giant Uber, is representing seven drivers who say the agencies used by Amazon are mistreating them.
While Amazon does not employ the drivers directly, the drivers, who are recruited through agencies, work via an Amazon app and follow delivery routes made by the company.
But drivers who are given up to 200 packages a day to deliver, say that traffic jams, weather and speed limits make it near impossible to deliver all of the parcels in a timely fashion.
A spokesperson for Amazon said: ‘Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace. The safety and well-being of our permanent and temporary associates is our number one priority.’