Amazon At Christmas: ‘Sweatshop Firing On All Cylinders’
An anonymous Amazon employee described on The Guardian what it is like to work at the online giant during “peak” season, which goes for six weeks “from the week before Black Friday through Christmas.”:
Full-time workers receive “mandatory extra-time”, working up to 60 hours per week with exhausting 11.5-12 hour days, while part-time workers are encouraged to take as many extra shifts as possible. Our workforce doubles with “seasonal” workers who are paid less, not given benefits, and put on a restrictive time-off allowance, ensuring they’ll be working through the holiday season.
Walking into my sort center, where packages are organized on pallets ready to be sent out to customers, it’s clear it’s mid-peak. Posters are scattered throughout the warehouse showing an associate holding an electronic scanner, like she’s in a photoshoot for Charlie’s Angels, with the slogan, “Be All Peak Pro.”
…Guiding us through a “stand up”, management tells us we’re going to “kill it” today, to set new records for boxes processed on our shift.
Aren’t we psyched to break records? Management claps and hoots. We’ll be rewarded, they say: a handful of associates randomly drawn may win a Kindle or an Echo Dot. My friend whispers to me, “We set the records, pay us in cash.”
…Our friends and co-workers walk past us, their feet dragging like zombies after having worked the last 10 hours, many for six days in a row. A few folks who learned their lesson last year refuse extra-time – they say that one five-hour shift is hard enough, doing two is unbearable.
…The whir of the belt picks up, marking the beginning of shift. From the jump we’re pushed to the limit, and it won’t stop until the moment we leave. Blue lights blink, signaling that we’re working too slow. A new “seasonal” manager looking to impress upper management comes by and tells us to pick up the pace while he just walks by without offering a hand. Thanks, buddy.
…Our backs may be aching, our bodies exhausted, our pay still the same, but at least we broke some records. America’s sweatshop firing on all cylinders; hundreds of millions of “customer promises” fulfilled.