Friday, June 01, 2018

Made to feel like robots

Amazon has been accused of treating staff like robots as it emerged that ambulances had been called out 600 times to the online retailer’s UK warehouses in the past three years. The GMB union revealed 115 call-outs to Amazon’s site in Rugeley, near Birmingham, including three relating to pregnancy or maternity problems and three for major trauma. There were also two call-outs to the site for electrocution and eight for people who had fallen unconscious. At least 1,800 people work year-round at the Rugeley warehouse and more than 2,000 more can work over the peak Christmas period. That compares to only eight calls in total to a nearby Tesco warehouse of a similar physical size and where about 1,300 people work, over the same period.

The GMB added that four-fifths of the 200 union members working for the American firm who had responded to a survey said they suffered pain as a result of their workload, with one pregnant woman complaining she had been forced to stand for her entire 10-hour shift.

One woman said to the union: “I told them I could not walk so many miles and I could not pick from low locations. I had a meeting with a safety manager and was also told: ‘It’s not what you want, it is what we decide’."

Another woman said: “I am pregnant and they put me to stand 10 hours without a chair … They are telling me to work hard even they know I am pregnant. I am feeling depressed when I am at work.”

The union had also been told of a woman who suffered a miscarriage while working, which she believed was partly as a result of continuous pressure to hit targets

Workers have said that the constant pressure to hit performance targets makes it difficult for them to take time out to visit the toilet or get a drink.

"Amazon should be treating staff with respect, not treating them like robots,” Mick Rix, a GMB national officer said.

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