Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Labor accused Amazon of exposing workers at several locations in the United States to hazardous buildings, prolonged hours and physical danger due to lifting of heavy packages and unnatural positions when retrieving them.
OSHA reviewed on-site injury logs required by federal law and discovered that, in fact, Amazon warehouse workers experienced high rates of musculoskeletal disorders. These accidents increase during holidays when employees work even faster and harder than on regular days.
As a multinational business – among the most influential worldwide – there have been calls for it to be more fair to its employees.
Amazon employee ignored for ‘overtime pay’
Wyeth Hall, a worker at Amazon, stated in his lawsuit that the company didn’t pay him for the overtime hours worked, as he was unable to clock in to timekeeping software until his workstation had booted up.
Hall dealt with clients’ refunds, sales and returns as a customer service associate. He worked between 40 and 60 hours a week for $15/hour during eight months in 2020.
Amazon said it could not comment on individual cases.
Unfortunately, this has happened before in other industries
The customer service sector is one of the most challenging, but this case isn’t the first. Many other companies expect employees to clock in immediately after setting up their workstations, which can take up to 20 minutes, depending on everyone’s computer performance. Experts say that the legal landscape demands employers to pay for all the time spent performing tasks, including preparing for them.
Amazon is strict on employee time
Even in warehouses, workers are monitored at every step so that managers can improve their performance. Unfortunately, this pushes employees to walk faster or run, which has led to plenty of accidents in time. According to https://www.personalinjuryclaimsuk.org.uk/, if workers are injured at work due to an employer’s breach of safety, they can claim compensation that varies depending on the gravity of the injury. However, when it comes to Amazon in the US, things are not that easy.
The company denied such allegations every time a lawsuit came up, saying they prioritise workers’ safety and give employees the opportunity to take breaks when tired.
The strike against Amazon never ends
Amazon workers have held a series of strikes calling for, among other things, raises in salary. Last year Amazon promised them a raise of 35p an hour, then 50p an hour – they had asked for a raise of at least £2 an hour.
Workers have also accused the company of holding time spent off against them to justify lower salaries.
Employees at Amazon ‘can barely pay their monthly rent’
Workers accuse Amazon of not rewarding them with salary increases despite bumper profits – notably during COVID – and relatively low levels of corporation tax. UK workers have also struck, for example in Coventry this year.
The Amazon Labour Union was created in 2021 to offer workers more power and support in facing what it says are the company’s harsh working conditions. Amazon disagreed with this movement, and some employees stated they’d been intimidated to force them into leaving the unions.
Amazon union members believe their efforts might lead to an improvement in how they’re treated and paid. During past years, some positive examples of how alliances changed their companies’ poor operations made them more confident in this action. For example, Uber drivers made an effort to be considered employees and not self-employed, and they succeeded after some time.
Amazon ‘doesn’t seem to worry about laying off employees’
Amazon isn’t afraid of firing employees because, as experts state, there’s always someone that will fill that position, continuing the company’s profit development. Being such a massive company, it’s easier for it to attract new workers. Hiring requirements are not complex, and anyone in need of a part-time job or even a full-time one is welcome there.
But what they don’t know is the strict method of the company’s performance tracking system. Amazon gathers data on a person’s speed of completing a task and completes a report that will generate warnings in case the worker is too slow or even final termination. Unfortunately, due to the high amount of work, some employees are even said to have to skip bathroom breaks in order to align with expectations and keep their jobs.
Amazon drivers also claim that they are treated poorly. This year, a few dozen workers at delivery service partner DSP went on strike, asking for increased salaries. Amazon refused to negotiate, saying they do not work directly for it, but the Teamsters union claimed Amazon was in “complete control” of DSP’s operations.
Amazon, one of the most prominent and influential companies in the world, is facing considerable backlash from employees globally due to alleged poor treatment of workers in warehouses and delivery drivers.