Amazon counters undercover BBC report showing harsh working conditions

Nov 25, 2013
7
Amazon counters undercover BBC report showing harsh working conditions

Amazon has been the target of an undercover report that looked into working conditions for employees at its warehouse near Swansea, something that will air this evening on the BBC's Panorama. The undercover report shows unfavorable conditions that could prove unhealthy to workers, but Amazon has spoken out against such claims, saying that it has taken steps to make sure its work shifts "comply with all relevant legal requirements."

The undercover work was done by 23-year-old Adam Littler, a graduate who had worked in the warehouse in the past. This time around he started out working the day shift for £6.50 per hour, being transferred after four weeks to the night shift -- with the shift change came a small salary boost to £8.25 per hour. Under that arrangement, he worked 10.5 hours per night, with a one hour break, for four nights per week.

Littler was outfitted with a hidden camera that recorded his work activities; he also is said to have kept a video diary of his total seven-week stint at the company's warehouse. Footage from this camera will be aired on BBC's Panorama, along with other details of his work, of which it is said he had to walk up to 11 miles on some night shifts, being directed to nab customer orders in as little as every 33 seconds.

Said one BBC statement, "Adam was a picker, collecting what customers buy from the miles of shelving. The Swansea warehouse has 800,000 square feet of storage. His work was controlled by a scanner. It instructed him where to go in the warehouse and told him how long he had to get there. He wore a hidden camera and kept a video diary. The footage shows him racing against the computerized countdown." Littler himself went on to describe the work experience as being very pressuring, and that the workers are treated like robots.

Amazon has countered this to the best of its ability at the present moment, saying that Panorama hasn't allowed the company to view it data or its footage, despite having requested to do so. The company points out that it not only consults with independent experts in relevant areas (safety, health, legal, etc.), but it also generates a lot of jobs and that it has "increased pay levels for all associates and moved to a four-day week shift schedule that provides associates with three days off per week." Amazon goes on to state that it sets productivity goals based on workforce performance, and that it makes it clear to potential hires when a job is going to be physically demanding.

SOURCE: Wales Online


Must Read Bits & Bytes