AMAZON workers have their toilets breaks timed, are paid as little as 7p per item they pack and are working as much as 55 hours a week, an undercover investigation has exposed, blowing the lid on the apalling conditions that exist in the warehouse in Tilbury, Essex.
n the run up to ‘Black Friday’, ‘Cyber Monday’ and now the run up to Xmas, workers are being pushed beyond their limits with ambulances being called to the warehouse as they collapse from exhaustion.
These are the findings of undercover reporter Alan Selby who spent five weeks working at Amazon armed with a secret camera. He saw warehouse workers doing such long shifts that some fell asleep on their feet.
Responding to the investigation, Birkenhead Labour MP Frank Field said Amazon should ‘hang its head in shame’. Alan Selby in his report said he felt staff were reduced to ‘livestock’.
During ‘Black Friday’ workers in Italy and Germany went on strike last week complaining about low pay and poor conditions. The Tilbury plant is designed to ship 1.2m items every year. Selby worked there in the run-up to Black Friday.
He wrote: ‘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.’
He added: ‘Whatever the hour, thousands of workers are racing to hit goals set by computers monitoring their every move. In my five weeks, I saw staff struggling to meet impossible targets, in constant fear of the sack.
‘Two half-hour breaks were the only time off my feet, but it was barely enough time to race to the canteen and wolf down some food to keep my energy up. My body ached, and my fitness tracker showed I walked at least 10 miles most days.
‘Despite being a keen marathon runner, the physical effort left me feeling dizzy, and I worried I might keel over if I kept pushing myself as hard as I needed to meet my targets. One colleague was taken to hospital by ambulance when they collapsed on the job, after struggling on despite feeling unwell. Another ambulance was called after a girl suffered a panic attack when she was told compulsory overtime would mean her working up to 55 hours a week over Christmas.’
Meanwhile trade union GMB has slammed Amazon over the high number of ambulance call outs to its Scottish warehouse last year. Ambulances were called out on 43 occasions!
GMB Scotland Organiser Helen Meldrum said: ‘These are shocking statistics but given the long-standing history of concern over the working conditions in Amazon, I can’t say that I am surprised. This lends weight to our arguments that Amazon must open up to trade union recognition.’