Hard-Pressed Amazon Workers Spending Christmas Season Living In Tents

The e-commerce giant drew ire after an investigation found some of its employees living in tents in bitter cold in order to save money on their commute.

Amazon Workers

Amazon.com may have made Christmas shopping (or shopping for any other event, really) as effortless as possible, but for the people who actually deliver the gifts you ordered online to your doorstep, the reality of such convenience is bleak.

The retail giant has once again come under fire for creating intolerable working conditions for its employees — particularly during the busy run-up to the holiday season, which saw the company doubling its workforce to keep up with consumers’ demands.

The Seattle-based retailer is facing a plethora of allegations, including penalizing its workers for sick days, paying them lower wages, subjecting them to Orwellian-style surveillance and not filling up the water dispensers for the employees — even though some of them walk up to 10 miles to deliver packages.

Being late to work is another no-no.

As The Courier revealed in its investigative report, some workers have taken to camp near one of Amazon fulfillment centers in Fife, Scotland, in order to save time and money commuting to work — as some employees have to travel for up to three hours to get to the warehouse. The staff members have to pay for it out of their own wallets.

The newspaper discovered at least three tents in the woods near the Dunfermline site.

Another Sunday Times investigation found the staff members face unreasonable time targets for every task and those who fail to keep up, or take too long during bathroom breaks, are subjected to disciplinary action.

There are airport-style security checks at the warehouse sites and CCTV camera monitor workers throughout the day, monitoring their whereabouts and level of activity.

“The constant race to meet targets and avoid personal penalties produced so many collisions between workers and trolleys that people gave up apologizing for bruising your shins or crashing into your bins,” an Amazon employee in the United Kingdom anonymously told The Times. “One day I offered to present a doctor’s note to explain my absence with a migraine, but was told that I would receive a penalty point anyway. A co-worker spent three days in hospital with a severe kidney infection and was given two penalty points, reduced to one on appeal.”

Amazon Workers

“It confirms that Amazon have created intolerable working conditions for many,” said Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. “The company don’t seem to be interested in keeping workers for too long as they work them until they drop. They have generated an oppressive culture where management and some workers put undue pressure on workers.”

He demanded the company change its ways when it comes to low wages and deplorable working conditions.

“Amazon should be ashamed that they pay their workers so little that they have to camp out in the dead of winter to make ends meet,” Rennie added. “They pay a small amount of tax and received millions of pounds from the SNP Government so the least they should do is pay the proper living wage. The fares the company charges for transport swallow up a lot of the weekly wage which is forcing people to seek ever more desperate ways of making work pay.”

Meanwhile, Amazon responded to the backlash by claiming it provides a “safe and positive workplace” and offers “competitive pay and benefits from day one.”

The company also released the following statement:

“One of the reasons we’ve been able to attract so many people to join us is that we offer great jobs and a positive work environment with opportunities for growth. We offer associates a range of roles in our fulfillment centers, depending on their preferences.

Some roles involve walking a number of miles each day, a fact we make clear during the recruitment process. Many associates seek these positions as they enjoy the active nature of the work.

There are many opportunities for people who prefer less active roles. As with nearly all companies, we expect a certain level of performance from our associates. Productivity targets are set objectively, based on previous performance levels achieved by our workforce.”

Thumbnail and Banner Image Credits: Reuters

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