back to article Amazon spies on staff, fires them by text for not hitting secretive targets, workers 'feel forced to work through pain, injuries' – report

Amazon is famous for its extreme efficiency yet behind the curtain is a crippling culture of surveillance and stress, according to a study by the Open Markets Institute. The think tank and advocacy group that repeatedly takes companies like Google and Facebook to task warned in the report [PDF] that Amazon's retail side has …

  1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Trump & Bezos

    And to think that The Don doesn't like Jeff Bezos.

    I'd have thought they'd be bosom-buddies.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Trump & Bezos

      It's the Highlander principle – there can only be one. But there are other differences: Bezos was a educated Wall Stree kid while Trump is just a dumb builder who had the advantage of being rich enough to be able to stiff his suppliers by declaring bankruptcy without losing contracts. I suspect, that apart from comparing bank balances, they wouldn't have much to say to each other.

      But Trump's main beef is that Bezos saved The Washington Post, which continues to write critical articles about him.

      1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Trump & Bezos

        Also, Trump got his start by inheriting about $400M. Bezos birth father was a bike shop owner, his adopted father an engineer. Bezos, for what it's worth, can legitimately claim to be self made, something Trump claims but like most of Trumps claims, does not have even a grain of truth at it's core.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Trump & Bezos

          My dad likes to say "Trump would be worth more if he had just left his inheritance in the bank"

          Anyone know if theres any truth in that?

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Trump & Bezos

            Take a look at AP News here.

            TL;DR version: from 1988 to 2015 Trump's wealth increased by 300%. The S&P 500 went up 1,336% in the same time. Gates and Buffet made even more.

            1. Blank Reg Silver badge

              Re: Trump & Bezos

              I question even the 300% figure since he's been known to play games with the valuation of his properties when it suits him. And of course we don't know the full extent of his debts. It might be that his actual net worth is less than what you might find between the sofa cushions.

              1. Sherrie Ludwig

                Re: Trump & Bezos

                I question even the 300% figure since he's been known to play games with the valuation of his properties when it suits him. And of course we don't know the full extent of his debts. It might be that his actual net worth is less than what you might find between the sofa cushions.

                I have a standing bet with a friend that my spouse and I have a higher net worth than the Trumps, as of Jan 20, 2016 (he's probably grifted more since). We aren't wealthy, just debt-free.

          2. skeptical i

            Re: Trump & Bezos

            Q: How do you make a small fortune in real estate?

            A: Start with a large fortune.

            Obviously, there are exceptions, not sure if Trump is one.

        2. EveryTime

          Re: Trump & Bezos

          $400M?

          Recent news stories suggest that Trump was gifted or inherited assets worth significantly more than that. But the real keys to the empire were a few of his father's accountants that were skilled at, ahh, tax optimization.

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Trump & Bezos

        I suspect, that apart from comparing bank balances, they wouldn't have much to say to each other.

        If you can count being at opposite ends of the billionaire scale comparable...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how many UK Amazon workers voted for brexit?

    It will be the same here after the government strips out the employment rules.

    https://amp.ft.com/content/5eb0944e-f67c-11e9-9ef3-eca8fc8f2d65

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: I wonder how many UK Amazon workers voted for brexit?

      I would imagine a sizable number are from the continent. The only vaguely credible benefit of Brexit was that the new immigration policy might have meant the likes of Amazon having to make their jobs more attractive (at least until they worked out how to eliminate them altogether). However, Covid unemployment has put paid to any chance of that.

      1. IDoNotThinkSo

        Re: I wonder how many UK Amazon workers voted for brexit?

        That's certainly the case round here. A lot of warehouse workers are Eastern European and the operators are able to pay significantly less than they would otherwise. Many of these developments were government funded (or at least, tax break encouraged) in areas with poor employment prospects, but because wages have been kept low it has done very little to help. Brexit should not have been a surprise.

        Apparently Amazon do actually offer better terms than some other warehouse jobs (such as cough Sports Direct cough).

        It is all a recipe for exploitation, though.

        As a side note, I wonder how much of the Covid transmission in large factory sites has to do with it being passed around in the workplace, and how much is due to the staff living in crowded multiple occupancy housing?

        1. Aitor 1

          Re: I wonder how many UK Amazon workers voted for brexit?

          They offer better apparent salaries.. not better conditions. It is amazing that these conditions are even legal.

    2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: I wonder how many UK Amazon workers voted for brexit?

      Amazon employs a lot of IT workers. Their conditions are not the same as the conditions of warehouse workers.

      Different workforce, different expectations, different incentives.

      1. dmedin

        Re: I wonder how many UK Amazon workers voted for brexit?

        What are the conditions like at Amazon for IT workers?

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    I'll flip burgers

    before I work for Amazon... At least there is some free food involved!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll flip burgers

      I'd put "food" very much in quotation marks :).

    2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: I'll flip burgers

      In my brief employment with McDonald's I never advanced to the grill. But I don't remember us ever getting free food. It was a while ago, though.

      1. Oliver Mayes

        Re: I'll flip burgers

        I worked at McDonalds when I was 16, we got a free meal with every shift. No nuggets though (They were worried that we'd try to squeeze 7 into the 6 box), and no milkshakes or ice cream because those were too expensive for us mere employees.

      2. Stumpy Silver badge

        Re: I'll flip burgers

        In my brief employment with McDonald's I never advanced to the grill

        ... so you didn't stay all day then?

      3. shade82000

        Re: I'll flip burgers

        I worked at one for a short time while in college, they allowed a regular sized meal with a soft drink if the shift was long enough for a mandatory lunch break. Twas 24 years ago, maybe they have tightened the purse strings since. Also twas a franchise, so maybe twasn't an official corporate policy.

        Peter was the best floor manager, he always told us when he was going to "cash up the tills while you <airquotes>throw the food away</airquotes>". Every other manager stood there while we put it into bin bags and then they walked outside with us to make sure it all went into the compactor. Thanks to Peter I have many memories of getting stoned after work, eating a box of 20 chicken nuggets that were actually chicken sandwich patties. Also mega macs (a big mac with four patties), but made with quarter pounder patties instead.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: I'll flip burgers

          Were you the original "Supersize Me" prototype?

          1. shade82000

            Re: I'll flip burgers

            Haha no but I did cycle 14 miles each way to work there because all my friends lived in that town. I think it's justified if I was burning off the calories.

            I don't remember ever eating in a fast food place since then, but I did walk past one a few months back and was surprised to see the people had been replaced with screens.

            1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
              Trollface

              Re: I'll flip burgers

              "...the people had been replaced with screens."

              Screens are much more tidy than people and don't eat much either.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: I'll flip burgers

        I stared off making pizzas and sandwiches at a beer bar by the beach. We had grazing rights. The owners just figured out we would be eating anyway so no point in trying to stop us. We would even sometimes trade a small pizza to the shake shop or cookie shop next door. That was pushing it a bit, but nothing was said.

        Forget fast food and take a job at an independent eatery. The owners and managers are often more caring of their employees and there isn't some corporate boss questioning their every move. The cost of the food is actually pretty cheap. The bigger costs for a restaurant is the rent, utilities, insurance, etc. Most people are hunting down food at roughly the same time of day so the times between breakfast, lunch and dinner are a net negative in terms of profitability but there isn't a way to close down. They can only adjust staffing levels.

        I'd rather have a minimum wage job where I'm getting fed than one with the reputation of an Amazon. When you work at a place like that, your supervisor is under pressure to meet quotas and so is their boss and their boss..... it's turtles all the way up. The worker on the floor should be able to excrete diamonds with all of that heat and pressure from above.

  4. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Coat

    Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

    A question which deserves serious analysis is; why would anyone work for Amazon or others engaged in similar practices?

    The one with the Metropolis and 1984 DVDs in the pocket.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

      Lots of people don't think they have a choice. But I'm sure you'll also find people who think it's great: young and healthy people might see the possibilities for promotion that I'm sure are covered in any interviews.

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: But I'm sure you'll also find people who think it's great

        Yeah, that's right! I see them in short informative clips shown between tv programs extolling the virtues of working for Amazon!

        Must be true, they wouldn't be allowed to pay people to say "it's great here!" otherwise.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But I'm sure you'll also find people who think it's great

          Well, that's what actors are for..

      2. ChrisBedford

        Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

        Lots of people don't think they have a choice. But I'm sure you'll also find people who think it's great: young and healthy people might see the possibilities for promotion that I'm sure are covered in any interviews

        I think you mean "lied about in interviews"

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

          Sure, but for some very few the dream might come true…

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

      "why would anyone work for Amazon or others engaged in similar practices?"

      Take a look at the general jobs market outside major cities. You can be

      1. Care worker (underpaid, lousy hours)

      2. Van Driver (underpaid, lousy hours)

      3. Warehouse worker (underpaid, lousy hours)

      4. Occasional other job (X years experience, 50 - 500 people after it)

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

        ...and what happens inside these major cities?

        apart from the rent being 10x higher?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

          "and what happens inside these major cities?"

          Until recently, you might have more of a chance to find a job willing to accept you. This was a little limited because rents are so unreasonable, but because there are large companies, there are also a lot of jobs for people with certain types of experience which could be easier to get. Because all of those people were in the city to work in the office, there were more jobs to provide services to them, which in turn created jobs that work well with lots of available customers in close proximity. New businesses requiring specialized employees might be attracted to the cities as well since the existing companies had already attracted employees who could be poached to the new company. In a smaller area, the small set of available customers makes it hard to start anything new because you are competing with existing businesses that have the advantages of long relationships and you have a finite ability to get people interested.

          Now that we have a pandemic shutting down cities, the future may look different. Those of us posting here are probably fine, because we're mostly technical people who can work from afar and/or have in-demand skills. There are many who do not have these advantages, and their experience may be significantly worse.

    3. Dr. Vagmeister

      Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

      I think this is more Dystopian - 1984 and The Fifth Element, where Bezos is Zorg (Gary Oldman character).

      All Bezos needs is a limp and quarter tips on his shoes, and he has made it. It looks like he has already got the fashion style required, just a bit further to go.

      I am sure that this example can be used to show others what pure greed does to companies - i expect that this is management created since they must have their bonuses, as well as Bezos driving it.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

        Don't forget the White Cat. You gotta have a White Cat if you are an evil genius who is plotting world domination.

    4. shade82000

      Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

      Personally I despise the kind of business decisions we read about in articles like this and I would never work for a CEO who can happily destroy the wellbeing of thousands of employees at the chance of increasing £200 million profit this year into £201 million next year, and still sleep at night.

      But some people don't mind it. Some are energetic and would have no issue with targets. For some people money isn't everything and they are just happy earning enough to pay the bills. For some people it's more important to work a job where they can switch off after their shift, and not have to think about work until their next shift. For every person like me who wouldn't work for a particular company on principle, there are a hundred others who will, who don't mind the conditions, or who desperately need to pay the bills and can't afford to refuse the low wages.

      The system won't change though without government intervention, and that's unlikely because governments suffer from corporate intervention. Major employment law change in favour of employees will not happen if the CEOs and top people are able to influence how employment laws are made.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

        "For some people it's more important to work a job where they can switch off after their shift, and not have to think about work until their next shift."

        There's that, but it doesn't sound like being an order picker for Amazon is that sort of job. You are constantly worried that you'll receive an anonymous performance warning or someday after a shift you'll get a text telling you you're sacked (or a message coming through the air delivery tube, for another 5th Element reference). You leave the stress of the the actual job at the workplace, but you keep the stress of wondering if you'll be going back the next day and the next. How do you plan anything if there is a real chance you'll be unemployed out of the blue? If you are working at a company where you can get a sense of how well the business is doing, you know that you might be on the chopping block from scuttle butt around the plant. With somebody like Amazon, you don't know how close you are to expected performance and you also don't know if the corporate office has done a deal a few counties over to build a whole new distribution center with a fresh set of tax abatements and free stuff. Where you work may wind up closed with a couple of day's notice and the whole thing shifted further away than is convenient for you.

        1. hoola Bronze badge

          Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

          These huge companies like Amazon have all evolved in a free-for-all with no regulation. The people at the top have amassed unbelievable amounts of wealth and are completely disconnected from reality. The gulf between those actually working and those making decisions is so huge that they have no concept of what the real world is like.

          The critical thing is that Amazon, just like the other "modern" big tech companies simply see no value in the human. The human is there as a source of data to be harvested or cheap labour to be exploited.

          They have always operated on the edge of regulation and particularly Amazon treat their terribly. Nothing will change particularly while people continue to use Amazon like Google for search as a source of buying everything online.

          The fact that the are now getting into food as well is well into monopoly with practices that are even worse than the supermarkets.

          The reality is that Amazon has evolved in such a way that it is untouchable. This is going to the old Victorian era of working.

          1. shade82000

            Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

            In a few years we'll all be thinking back to simpler times - bring back the good old supermarket days, when farmers were just being underpaid for their milk.

          2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

            Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

            You can bring any company to its knees if you refuse to buy from it. There are always choices. I no longer listen to my friends who are scandalised by Amazon and yet keep buying from it 'because it's cheap and you get it next day'. So waiting three days and spending another maybe £5 is going to make life a hollow mockery and one not worth living? Like the lives of those you exploit whenever you use Amazon?

            Don't buy from Amazon. It is that easy.

        2. SuperGeek

          Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

          "You are constantly worried that you'll receive an anonymous performance warning or someday after a shift you'll get a text telling you you're sacked (or a message coming through the air delivery tube"

          That can happen at any company. I've worked at lots of independent repair shops that hit the wall overnight.

        3. shade82000

          Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

          Most of the things you mention can happen anywhere.

          I'm speaking from my experience. I've worked at my company for more than 20 years and most evenings I catch myself thinking about projects I'm working on, planning my work for the next day etc. For me it would be unthinkable to work at a place like amazon, and it sounds like you wouldn't enjoy it either.

          I have friends who work all kinds of different jobs. Some of them enjoy warehouse work because they just don't care about the corporate bullshit and they can easily just not think about it. Somehow they choose to just not have a problem with it. They would have no problem meeting the targets, and even if they didn't and lost the job, they would just get another one without worrying about it, and they have always been employed, but in 10's of different places. I don't getunderstand it.

          Some other people are oblivious to anything more than 5m away, and wouldn't understand the negative sides you and I see, even if you tried to explain it to them.

          I totally disagree with targets being hidden though. I bet amazon have done a study that found if people had to pick 100 items an hour then they would pick 103. But if the targets are hidden they always work at their max and end up picking 130 out of fear. It must be a constant feeling of fear, like that feeling where you are being followed or chased but not knowing who by.

    5. Slef

      Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

      "A question which deserves serious analysis is; why would anyone work for Amazon or others engaged in similar practices?" I am guessing you have never had the pleasure of claiming Universal Credit in non Covid times!

    6. c1ue

      Re: Dystopian Nightmares Inc.

      You might ask the same question of why would anyone drive for Uber/Lyft, deliver for DoorDash/Grubhub, etc?

      Because there aren't better choices and because there is very expensive marketing.

      Uber lied vociferously over what drivers get paid - the $80,000 annual income they were pushing in the early years was later shown to be completely made up.

      Amazon: they offer "high" minimum wages, but people don't realize just how debilitating those jobs are. Nor are they jobs which can be handled for very long - injuries and lack of benefits are both later consequences.

      Ultimately, these jobs exist because of the hollowing out of employment opportunities in the Western countries: manufacturing to China, services jobs to India, etc. have led to a dearth of opportunity for those who aren't sufficiently middle tier (software devs and managers) to the billionaire overlords.

  5. fajensen Silver badge

    I wonder what the "cash in a clear plastic bag" is for. Toilets and vending machines all take credit cards around here and I don't suppose they would have those mechanical coin-op meters to pay for workers to pay for heat and lighting at their work stations?

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      On the way to/from work.

      Would you be happy to leave your cash in the "locker" at a workplace like that?

    2. shade82000

      >> I don't suppose they would have those mechanical coin-op meters to pay for workers to pay for heat and lighting at their work stations?

      Don't give them any ideas. No doubt this CEO would bill his workers for heat, light, water and air if he could get away with it.

      People likely need money to / from work, but also making people keep their money on them removes any corporate responsibility from thefts. Things can be stolen from a locker, but if it was on you then it's never stolen, only lost.

      1. ricardian

        https://www.bing.com/th?id=OM1.nzLbbXq8QdXu2g_1593555153&pid=1.7

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      I'd be very concerned with leaving a wallet and phone in a locker. Many people have far too much PII on their phones including bank details, etc. Cash would be easier to lose than a debit/credit card, driving license, health card, ad nauseum. Getting replacements would take weeks and cost more than what I normally carry around in bank notes. I also want to have my ID on my person should something happen. I want emergency services and a hospital (or a corner) to find out who I am quickly and contact my family. Co-workers aren't going to have that info and the supervisor should, but might not be allowed to access it on the company network due to restrictions.

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    If you do not like this ...

    then do not feed the daemon -- do not buy from Amazon. I do not.

    Beware: the more that Amazon grows, the more that others die. What will competition be like in 20 years time ?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: If you do not like this ...

      And I won't take deliveries of packets from them for others in the house: their only delivery service uses casual labour only.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you do not like this ...

        Interesting - here they give the postal services a lot of extra work.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: If you do not like this ...

          Here in Germany they decided it was cheaper to "appify" delivery using their own slaves – German parcel services are already very cheap and known for overworking their employees – and so go one "better".

          Bezos is a numbers man and for him it will be about volumes or additional services: I notice that some deliveries are early evening when more people can be expected to be at home and when normal delivery services have stopped. It's embarassing at times to see how many delivery vans are on the same street at the same time – I think the most I saw was four DHL / Deutsche Post And the street is only 200m long!

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: If you do not like this ...

          "here they give the postal services a lot of extra work."

          In the US, they use the post office to make deliveries to the unprofitable to deliver rural addresses. That puts the post office in a bad position as they charge the same money for every post of a given distance between the two points. There are some small towns near me that are way at the end of a long and lonely road. Often they have their mail boxes located on the main road, but packages may not fit in the one or two parcel lockers, need to be signed for of there are already items in those parcel lockers. That mean 30-45 minutes round trip for the postman. Amazon isn't going to do that with their own delivery network and neither will their contractors.

          The work they give the post office is costing the post office lots of money.

      2. stiine Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: If you do not like this ...

        Around here they all seem to be young, and during the summer you can tell when an Amazon delivery van is coming from the blaring gangsta rap music coming downthe street. In winter you only know they're nearby when they open the van door to make the delivery.

        Also, if you need gas on your way to work in the morning, you need to get to QT before the do because they use all of the pumps at once...

    2. EricM

      Yeah, do not feed it - or jour own job will look like this, soon

      Survival of the fittest, remember?

      1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: Yeah, do not feed it - or jour own job will look like this, soon

        No, actually, I don't remember. I remember this tired, defunct phrase being invented by ruthless capitalists off the back of Darwin's research, to justify shark-like, pitiless ethics-free practices. I do know that Darwin was talking about 'fittest' in the sense of 'most adaptable' or indeed 'most lucky with having enough random mutations to find a few that makes the species as a whole better adapted to whatever environment if finds itself in'.

        We choose to allow shark-like behaviour. We can also choose not to permit it in our society. Like back in the 1940s-1960s, with workers rights, unions, etc.

        1. EricM

          Re: Yeah, do not feed it - or jour own job will look like this, soon

          I realize now my remark can easily be misunderstood ...

          What I menat was that the abuse of workers makes Amaozon quite fit against their competition who treats workers more fairly - if customers continue to shop at amazon.

          Then Amazon and companies acting as ruthless as Amazon will take over the market in the long term.

          So sooner or later most jobs will be like the jobs described in this article - if customers continue to shop at amazon.

          So basically they shouldn't.

    3. Charlie van Becelaere
      Paris Hilton

      Re: If you do not like this ...

      Beware: the more that Amazon grows, the more that others die. What will competition be like in 20 years time ?

      All restaurants are Taco Bell.

      Paris because her erstwhile burger joint will be absorbed as well.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: If you do not like this ...

        "All restaurants are Taco Bell.

        "

        Unless you buy the DVD and they have changed the name to Burger King or something I can't remember.

        1. Microchip

          Re: If you do not like this ...

          Pizza Hut, as few people on this side of the pond knew what Taco Bell was. Complete with some very bad dubbing.

    4. shade82000

      Re: If you do not like this ...

      I agree with you on your principle, but do you also avoid any web services hosted on AWS? I doubt that's possible.

      Amazon's shopping platform is a comparatively small percentage of their overall business. If everybody was to boycott their shopping platform then it would shrivel up and die. But we would all spend our time watching Netflix instead which is hosted where?

      It's impossible for everybody to collectively boycott them now.

    5. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: If you do not like this ...

      In 20 years, competition will be outlawed.

    6. Pat Att

      Re: If you do not like this ...

      I agree about not buying from Amazon if you can.

      I wanted to buy a Velux window opening stick. Amazon had the correct thing, but I looked around and found a small window company in the UK selling them for similar price (maybe a pound more or so), but who didn't mention their postage charge. So I emailed them asking what it was, and waited. Few days later I just bought from Amazon, as they didn't get back to me.

      Trouble with Amazon is that they make it so easy to buy from.

      1. shade82000

        Re: If you do not like this ...

        I've had a similar experience, but what really made it hard to give up was their returns handling and customer service.

        I'll pay quite a bit more to shop elsewhere, but if I'm not sure about a product or it breaks then it's so easy to return to amazon, and their customer service is faultless. Even with DSR or whatever it's called these days, so many other companies try to refuse returns or not pay shipping for faulty items, occasionally I can't be bothered with the hassle of dealing with them.

        99 out of 100 purchases I manage to avoid amazon, but it's not just about getting low prices. Other companies really need to step up their customer service and returns game. And just like the government is ultimately responsible for the shitshow that allows amazon to behave like this, the government body that 'enforces' selling regulations really needs to start clamping down on companies who are not following the rules.

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: If you do not like this ...

        Amazon could give the level of service they do and still behave like an ethical company by deciding that Bezos has enough billions and to spend more on more staff, better working environments, etc. They could actually be an awesome company. It chooses not to be.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: If you do not like this ...

          Jeff's making money on stock way more than salary. Amazon's profit margin is just so-so and they are still climbing out of all of the debt they accumulated from years of losing money. That debt, BTW, is why they don't have a huge tax bill. They are amortizing that debt going forward. At the point they break even, they'll have to start paying taxes in whichever tax haven they base their "headquarters" in.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    This is news?

    I thought everyone knew that Amazon does this? Let's face it all the warehousing shit is extremely low margin and Amazon relies on slave driving as much as tax arbitrage and cheap credit to survive with the aim of forcing the competition out of business, or at least establishing a cartel.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is news?

      But they're all such smiling happy faces in their 'join the tour' ads... and they have Donna's cakes to look forward to each week

      Now we find out it's not true!

    2. SuperGeek

      Re: This is news?

      The companies that work on behalf of Apple do it too. Foxconn, and all the poor buggers out in the mines in dangerous conditions risking their lives to mine ore for the next iShiny.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: next iShiny?

        But... that iShiny uses bog standard components just like a Dell, HP, Lonovo, Samsung or whatever?

        So those companies will have poor buggers out in the mines digging up the same stuff as they do for Apple won't they?

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    Let's hope that Bezos is not thinking of buying the presidency, he would make Trump look like an angel by comparison.

    It is an indictment on society that people are put in a position where they are willing or obliged to work under such conditions and an indictment on governments that are willing to let their people be treated in that manner.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Why would Bezos run for POTUS?

      When he can buy half the countries in the world and be El Presidente for Life? (Like Trumps pal Putin)

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Who says he won't think of doing so in a couple of years? Though as Michael Bloomberg demonstrated, sometimes it takes more than just money.

  9. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Joke

    > "Associate performance is measured and evaluated over a long period of time as we know that a variety of things could impact the ability to meet expectations in any given day or hour. We support people who are not performing to the levels expected with dedicated coaching to help them improve."

    Dear Mr. Bezos,

    Please can I have a job as a performance coach?

    Relevant experience; I first used a whip as an animal trainer in the Circus, back in 1972. But when they made it illegal to use on animals I could only find work as a slave driver in Roman galley-slave re-enactments (obvs only pretending). I'm looking forward to really laying in again - and I don't mean in bed.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personal tech

    > The report also noted that the web goliath has patented a wristband that "can precisely track where warehouse employees are placing their hands and use vibrations to nudge them in a different direction".

    Ah, so that's why the story is filed under Personal Tech rather than Business. :)

    1. Huw D
      Trollface

      Re: Personal tech

      The news Bezos/Musk tech collaboration will allow your partner to track where you are placing your hands and they can then use mind control to nudge them in a different direction...

  11. heyrick Silver badge

    Before shouting at Amazon...

    ...shouldn't you be shouting at governments that permit these inhumane treatments of employees to happen in the first place? Because if Bezos does it and gets away with it, you can bet that other such companies are either doing it or looking to implement such practices.

    1. cschneid

      Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

      I find "It isn't illegal" a feeble excuse to treat the employees badly. It also isn't illegal to treat them decently.

      1. Stumpy Silver badge

        Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

        Yes, but it's far less profitable...

        1. cschneid

          Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

          Ceteris paribus, yes - but not necessarily so. It's more work than it's worth to me to redesign the entire socioeconomic system when the number of thumbs up on the original indicates the masses have already absolved Amazon of all responsibility for their actions in the presence of a government to blame.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

            True, but companies have a duty first and foremost to their shareholders. They are also fantastic lobbyists: they got capital gains tax reduced so that share options would be more favourable than cash bonuses when executive remuneration was unpopular. Now no one seems to bat an eyelid when someone gets multimillions in stock options on top of their salary every year.

            1. cschneid

              Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

              Jack Welsh recanted.

          2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            You've given me an idea

            Instead of trying "to redesign the entire socioeconomic system" we could just blame the Corona virus.

          3. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

            "already absolved Amazon of all responsibility for their actions in the presence of a government to blame"

            Which is an amusingly incorrect interpretation of what was written.

            Employees want rights, privileges, decent pay, etc.

            Companies want to pay as little as they can (anything else eats into their precious profits that the people at the top of the pile enjoy), treat their staff as expendable commodities, and offer as little as possible. I would imagine, now that there are more people than jobs, that such concepts as employee loyalty are little more than nice sounding platitudes to stop the employees forming unions... Companies aren't run for the benefit of the employees.

            Enter the government. The ones who are supposed to have the power and ability to get things done. Employees don't make employment law, neither do companies (although they're in a better position to be able to bribe lobby the politicians). Companies won't willingly have a change of heart and suddenly treat everybody like actual people. If they did, if they would, then we wouldn't need the many pages of employment law that exist. We wouldn't have needed the EU to enhance workers rights. And we wouldn't need to have such things as tribunals.

            If a company treats its employees badly and this treatment is enough to cause outrage (and Amazon's treatment of employees is a story that gets done to death every Christmas) then there are only two possibilities:

            Possibility one, they are breaking the law and should have their asses handed to them.

            Possibility two, they aren't breaking the law, in which case it is the government that should be brought to account for explain how and why they're okay with such behaviour. But don't hold your breath as the government are completely okay with zero hours contacts, just to prove how much the little low wage "employee" really means in the scheme of things.

            1. cschneid

              Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

              Possibility three, the world does not work on the "that which is not mandatory is forbidden" rule and therefore companies have the freedom to treat their employees decently even if the law doesn't require it.

              Which is the essence of my first reply, do try to keep up.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

        "I find "It isn't illegal" a feeble excuse to treat the employees badly."

        Well, we have a government and employment tribunals to catch these sorts of things and THEY need to be informed and lobbied. There is no way to have a law that states "Employers must treat all of their employees decently". It's way to subjective. It is possible to have a law that states you can't sack an employee for failing to meet job performance criteria that isn't published to them. Even then, most places the criteria has to be reasonable and managers have to meet with the employee in person and discuss what can be done to bring them up to scratch. Having a computer send out texts based on some algorithm should be a liability for the company. There are numerous reasons for somebody not picking enough orders ranging from more care being needed for fragile items, congestion in the aisles, mis-invetoried items that take time to find, safety reasons where a direct path is blocked and an employee has to go around the long way to find an item. You could have a day where you are assigned big, heavy or oddly shaped items that take more time to pick and package. A human supervisor would be able to see this. They'd also know if there were issues at the facility that was slowing people down. The HVAC could be out and the warehouse blazing hot or perishing cold. Either extreme would slow people down.

        Companies will always use whatever tactics they can to get around any rules they think are impeding any amount of profit. If taxes are considerably less in Ireland, they'll open an office and shift accounting around to make their profits in Ireland. All perfectly legal. It's up to the shiftless politicians to forego the payoffs and close those loopholes. The companies themselves are behaving as there is no such thing as "fair" in the real world. This includes "fair share".

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm glad...

    ... that here in the southern side of the Channel, most, if not all, of those practices are illegal.

    1. Colin 22

      Re: I'm glad...

      IIRC, in the UK warehouse staff have to be paid for the time waiting for security checks - I think this was one the Mike Ashley'd Sports Direct lost

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Go

        Re: I'm glad...

        Didnt apple lose a similar court case in california just recently? I seem to remember reading about it here on el reg. So probably thats also illegal in the US as well...

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: I'm glad...

          Yes, they did. It only affected California, but maybe Amazon's employees should be considering testing the precedent in other states as well.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: I'm glad...

          "Didnt apple lose a similar court case in california just recently?"

          California is very employee biased. Employers really have to watch their behavior. If you want to sack somebody, you need to have documented a pattern of sub-standard performance or discipline issues. Some things are over the top such as assaulting somebody at work or shouting hurtful words. Grand theft is a one strike deal too. If somebody is showing up hung over, you have to document that a few times after having meetings with them about it. Being drunk or stoned is gray for a first offense unless the job is operating machinery, driving, etc.

          1. CrackedNoggin

            Re: I'm glad...

            "Being drunk or stoned is gray for a first offense" ...

            Taking a look at https://www.edd.ca.gov/uibdg/Misconduct_MC_270.htm , which is a CA state govt website covering the issue, it appears immediate termination for any intoxication - even without a blood or other test - is easier than your estimate. The website has many case studies.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: I'm glad...

              "it appears immediate termination for any intoxication - even without a blood or other test - is easier than your estimate. The website has many case studies."

              You'd still have to be careful. If a person "appears" intoxicated but has a medical condition such as the doctor prescribing new meds or dosages, there could be protections under the "Americans with Disability Act (ADA)". If they come back from lunch reeking of pot or alcohol and staggering, that would be different, but to CYA, requiring testing and going from the results puts the employer on firmer ground. You don't want to win but have spent satchels full of money to lawyers and spent endless hours with the Labor Board filling out paperwork and appearing at hearings.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm glad...

            California might be less employer-biased than the rest of the US. But to say it's "very employee-biased" seems to be stretching it a little. Come back when they've got laws close to those of France or Germany.

  13. TechnicalVault

    Easy solution to this, profits tax based on externalities created

    If they are burning employees out like this then they need to pay for the damage done, it is the only way to achieve desired corporate behaviour. A nice little tax on net profits (gross is too easy to do Hollywood accounting on) proportional to the number of current employees below SNAP level (prorated by the number of hours they do, no cliff edges) + long term unemployed after working there +disability claims in the 1st 6 months after leaving employment there.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Easy solution to this, profits tax based on externalities created

      Wrong way round. Holywood will declare an accurate Gross figure, as that is what is used to compare the success of a film. It's the Nett figure that is massaged such that a film makes little to no profit.

    2. Flak
      Coffee/keyboard

      Net vs. Gross Profits - Re: Easy solution to this, profits tax based on externalities created

      You got your nets vs. grosses mixed up... the whole idea being that you can show much less profit if you allocate more and more costs - often loosely describes as 'fees', resulting in little or no net profit, even if gross profit looked fantastic.

    3. shade82000

      Re: Easy solution to this, profits tax based on externalities created

      So we should still allow companies to burn people out, but make them pay for it afterwards? The cost of your online purchases would go up, they have to employ more staff, and the people would be working under the same conditions.

      Sorry I don't agree. I think the only solution is massive employment law changes, to outlaw these practices and prevent companies from putting people through this in the first place. Your shopping still goes up and they still have to employ more staff, but at least they would have better working conditions and higher minimum wage.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Easy solution to this, profits tax based on externalities created

      Amazon, Walmart and other companies can get away with paying starvation wages in the US partially due to people still being eligible for public assistance. They'll even help employees fill out the paperwork so they can get welfare, food and housing subsidies and so forth. If people working for them could not get those benefits, they'd have to pay more to fill openings. In essence, the US government is subsidizing these large companies through the backdoor for their staff and through the other door via tax abatements, free land, buildings, low interest loans, infrastructure to support a new facility such as utility access, roads and traffic lights, etc.

      Just look at all of the US cities that were ready to prostitute themselves to get Amazon to locate their new headquarters/regional office in their towns. Tesla got Austin, Texas to give them $64 million in tax relief to build a factory to assemble their toy truck in. They are saying that it will employee around 4,500 people, but I don't think that number is a guarantee. Likely it isn't as Elon's goal is to make assembly as automated as possible. The payroll and other taxes on those workers isn't going to come close to $64mil. The city may also need to build more roads to handle the traffic in and out of the plant, construct new sewage treatment plants to handle all of the new people moving into the area, more police, fire and EMT stations and staff for the larger population, etc etc. Things didn't work out for New York and the Tesla/Solar City gigafactory there. Rumors are they had to hire a bunch of people to sit around since paying minimum wage would have been cheaper than defaulting on the employment guarantees. If Tesla's weird truck thing doesn't take off, Tesla might not be able to keep the plant fully staffed and there could be an interval where it's shut to reconfigure it to make something else. Since the company hasn't made any profit selling cars, they may also find themselves having to abandon the plant leaving Austin with a specialized car plant that nobody else wants to occupy (and a bunch of new fire stations, sewage plants, ambulances....)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Easy solution to this, profits tax based on externalities created

      https://www.theregister.com/2020/09/02/google_passes_on_digital_services/

      "Google and Amazon pass on UK Digital Services Tax by hiking ad prices and fees at same rate the government takes"

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Easy solution to this, profits tax based on externalities created

        ""Google and Amazon pass on UK Digital Services Tax by hiking ad prices and fees at same rate the government takes""

        As They® say, "Companies don't pay tax, people do". When I sell stuff on eBay I have to estimate the shipping price and add a "handling" charge to cover the percentage that eBay collects on the shipping (10%). They did that due to sellers marketing items for $.99 and charging $21 for shipping to avoid the fee on the sale. Companies aren't going to just absorb the new tax and make less money.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If people didn't vote with their credit card

    Amazon would soon go out of business.

    Those snappy UK TV adverts present a very different version of life inside the Bezos Gulag.

    Until consumers start boycotting Bezosworld nothing will change. If anything it will get worse. Avoid Amazon, shop local!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If people didn't vote with their credit card

      >Until consumers start boycotting Bezosworld nothing will change. If anything it will get worse. Avoid Amazon, shop local!

      People only really care about price otherwise they wouldn't buy clothes or other items made in foreign sweatshops etc

      Call me a cynic but a vast majority people are not altruistic, I heard a quote once but can't remember where from, people do the most selfless of things for the most selfish of reasons.

      1. shade82000

        Re: If people didn't vote with their credit card

        People are good at telling others to be alturistic.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: If people didn't vote with their credit card

        "Call me a cynic but a vast majority people are not altruistic, I heard a quote once but can't remember where from, people do the most selfless of things for the most selfish of reasons."

        That's me. I'm happy to do work at no charge if I'm getting something in return that's worth more than the cash I would have charged. I'd be happy to work a couple of nights a week stocking shelves at the grocery if I was paid the equivalent of $25/hour in food and household goods. I would be spending that money anyway and the store might come out ahead since we'd figure the exchange via retail prices.

  15. sabroni Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The saddest thing IMO

    is that he could pay people a really good wage and still be coining it.

    It's a personal choice he's made to treat people like shit.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: The saddest thing IMO

      "Unhappy

      The saddest thing IMO

      is that he could pay people a really good wage and still be coining it."

      Not really. Jeff has gazillions of bucks from bloated stock, not profits. Amazon still has lots of debt from years of operating at a loss. Their margins aren't that great, but they do such huge volume the raw numbers look impressive. I've seen people whinging about oil companies like Exxon with profits of $XXX billions but don't realize that the profit is a percentage of $XX Trillions of revenue. From a percentage standpoint, they are pretty ordinary but the raw figures have lots of zeros and that's what they are focusing on.

      1. CrackedNoggin

        Re: The saddest thing IMO

        "Jeff has gazillions of bucks from bloated stock, not profits."

        Excellent point - with the exception that AWS, with much smaller revenue than the Shopping Portal, makes more profit. (Also, and conversely - the net overseas Shopping Portals are still operating at a loss.)

        There is a destructive dynamic built into US financial markets - monopolies (or the promise of one) attract a lot of investment money as a safe bet, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: The saddest thing IMO

          "There is a destructive dynamic built into US financial markets - monopolies (or the promise of one) attract a lot of investment money as a safe bet,"

          The financial press will write lots of articles about how XXXX (ticker symbol) is the "market leader" in <shiny new buzzword tech thing> and that's where people with more money than brains will make their "investment". How can they go wrong by investing in the market leader? The favorites get chosen outside of due diligence. Maybe it's big companies employing writers that produce Press Releases with just a slight amount of bias and written in such a way that "reporters" only have to cut/paste and do a little tiny bit of wordsmithing to have an article to turn in. I know a guy who's job was just that. He wrote "articles" for magazines that featured the products of the company he worked for that were published under a couple of pseudonyms. He was paid by the company and the magazines.

    2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: The saddest thing IMO

      Amazon does not treat software developers like shit, does it? Why do you think it is?

      We are talking about different workforce.

      You remove all those controls from a warehouse and they will go broke pretty soon - things will start disappearing, people will stop working. It is an issue with any very large place using low qualified staff.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: The saddest thing IMO

        @TheMeercat: "You remove all those controls from a warehouse and they will go broke pretty soon - things will start disappearing, people will stop working. It is an issue with any very large place using low qualified staff."

        I'm not saying you are wrong, but do you have hard evidence of that? It is something that is often said, but not backed up. Is there a difference between companies that trust their staff to be reasonable (the "grazing rights" mentioned above) and those that treat staff as potential thieves from beginning to end?

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Explicit targets == controls

        Hidden targets == extortion.

  16. Chris G Silver badge

    Amazon manglement

    This makes it clear that from the top it's arseholes all the way down.

  17. USER100

    Unions need to make a comeback

    > [The Open Markets Institute proposed] a rule against any forms of surveillance that "preemptively interfere with unionization efforts".

    This is the key. The power lies with the workers, if only they knew it. That's why unions have been totally defanged since the 70s, thanks to corporate pressure/donations to governments.

    Bosses and managers comprise a very small section of society, yet they control the rest. Workers are the vast majority but are now, in some cases, treated little better than slaves. I've often thought there's not much difference between the average job and slavery - you are doing something all day you don't want to be doing, in exchange for the ability to (just about) pay the rent/mortgage. (Except in the case of slaves their owners often provided the housing.)

    Sadly, people now seem reluctant to join unions when they have the chance. This weakens the unions still further, which makes joining one even less appealing - exactly what our corporate overlords want.

  18. Steve Button

    And this is why I stopped buying stuff from Amazon about 3 years ago

    Went down from over a couple of grand, to less than a couple of hundred each year that I spend with them.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: And this is why I stopped buying stuff from Amazon about 3 years ago

      If you try a little bit harder, you can ween yourself completely.

      Plenty of local shops can order stuff for you from their suppliers that they don't stock in their store. Local hardware stores are really good for this. Mine gets their big delivery once a week on Wednesday. If I order something in stock at the regional ware house by 9am Tues morning, I can have it on Thursday morning. This is awesome for freight items. For a very nominal fee, they will deliver something big and heavy to my house like a 5hp air compressor and I can wangle a discount since they don't have any stocking costs. The owner of the corner market picks up stuff in bulk for me from the wholesaler he buys from. This is really brilliant when there is a closeout on crisps I like. I can get a whole case for pence on the pound that are a day past the best by stamp. Still perfectly fine and It's not like I leave them in the cupboard for ages. These are the reasons I shop locally as much as possible. I know the shop owners, they know me and are always looking out for bulk deals I'll buy. No eTailer can do that.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: And this is why I stopped buying stuff from Amazon about 3 years ago

        "Plenty of local shops can order stuff for you from their suppliers that they don't stock in their store."

        I use Amazon. Because my experiences with local shops was variations of:

        * If it's not on the shelf, we don't have it.

        * Huge markup applied to stuff that is ordered in (moreso if it was priced in another currency).

        * Plus they'll expect you to pay for shipping too.

        * And the date it'll arrive may be "several weeks from now".

        As opposed to the evil empire that sells the thing at the expected price and will get it in my letterbox the day after tomorrow.

        It's hard to wean away from Amazon when the local shops are so fucking useless that you wonder if they even understand the concept of commerce.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: And this is why I stopped buying stuff from Amazon about 3 years ago

          heyrick, The big box stores are exactly like what you describe. I don't do special orders with them as it's a nightmare. If they had an order desk for just that, they could do really well since those products are sold in advance and don't need to be shelved. Most stores have a very limited return policy for special orders which insulates them from "I didn't like the shade of brown it came in" returns.

          This is why I emphasize dealing with small locally owned shops. The better you know the owner/manager, the better the deal you can get. For things that fit in a mail box, shipping is cheap. For things that come on a truck, it can be very dear so getting it to within a couple of miles of your home can save loads of money. My local hardware store has a truck with a lift gate just for local deliveries and they don't charge much for that.

          A good rule of thumb is that the larger the company, the less your business means to them. You can stop doing business with them and bad mouth them all you like and it won't affect their bottom line in any noticeable way. If the local shop routinely burns it's customers, they'll be out of business before long.

  19. Androgynous Cow Herd

    I watched this happen to an Amazon employee

    My ex got hired on as a "Picker" for Whole Foods....walking the grocery story and pulling orders for online shoppers. A very dehumanizing hiring process was followed by a days training about how to log in daily to get your hours for the day, if you didn't log into in a very short window there would be nothing available.

    For the next few weeks, I watched her get more and more frustrated an nothing was ever available, even if she logged in an hour before the window and pounded the refresh button like an arcade controller. As she had lost her day job due to Covid, this frustration really took a toll on her. After about three weeks, she was eventually terminated because she never was able to get any hours.

    1. skeptical i
      Thumb Down

      Re: I watched this happen to an Amazon employee

      re: "log in daily to get your hours for the day"

      So it's expected that employees (or "employees") will have nothing else to do all day except give randomly selected hours to BezoWorld? No kids to think about, no appointments to keep, just all hours all day for WF to select and squander? It is downright shameful that this is tolerated ... no so much by workers who may feel they have no other options, but by municipalities and governments who think this is OK, and even desirable judging from the shoulder-pranging back-patting cities do when they "win" an Amazon warehouse in their area. When our legislators have to call in every day to see what their hours (and pay) will be for any given day, and/or endure any of the other soul-shredding indignities inflicted by the Bezos Empire maybe something will change.

      1. Trilkhai

        Re: I watched this happen to an Amazon employee

        It's not just happening with WF — people shopping for services like Instacart are also encountering the same issue, partly because bots are snapping up most of the spots and selling them.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: I watched this happen to an Amazon employee

        It would be too scary to take a job and then not know if you are going to be scheduled. I've run into the same thing with some service companies that require you to only do work for them, but make no guarantees on salary or work assignments.

        Self-employed people sort of have the same dilemma in not knowing if they'll have work, but they also have control and can go out and try to bring work in. Not something you can do with one of these very casual jobs.

  20. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    After reading this article

    Why would anyone want to work for Amazon?

    Its simple really, you're desperate for money, and need a job.... you dont care what sort of job, so long as it pays.

    Hence people will put up with all sorts of abuse from the manglement because they need the money

    After all, how many of us have wanted the PHB to be mangled by a robot/fed into the paper shredder/walked into that open lift shaft/ lent on the window after the BOFH 'fixed' it (delete as applicable)

    As for treating people like crap, I found out a long time ago that you get better results with carrots rather than using a bigger stick.... because the bigger the stick, the less people will do for you...

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: After reading this article

      "As for treating people like crap, I found out a long time ago that you get better results with carrots rather than using a bigger stick.... because the bigger the stick, the less people will do for you..."

      it doesn't scale. Carrots have to be tailored to the person or small department whereas, a stick can be very universal. In a big operation, it's hard for the company to deal with employees one to one. This is why there is a love hate relationship between auto manufacturers and unions. Having a blanket contract regarding pay, rises, holidays, day off requests, etc is easier than having an HR department dealing with all of it on an individual basis for a campus that has 40,000 employees.

      In a small company, the "carrot" can be more pay, flexible scheduling, days off in lieu and all sorts of other things and it's not hard to do with a small number of employees with managers that know everybody and what makes them happiest. I doubt that a supervisor/manager at an Amazon distribution warehouse could give you the full name of somebody on the floor you randomly pointed to (unless they are a problem and headed to the chopping block).

  21. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I'd like to stop buying from Amazon

    But that would mean I'd have to stop buying anything, as local stores stock almost nothing I need.

    The local auto parts place doesn't stock jack oil any more, for car jacks. Nor does it stock anything but the shittiest of gas cans or oil drain pans.

    The local Best Buy doesn't stock wired mice, video capture devices, USB microphones, ethernet switches, or SSD drives.

    Nowhere stocks a decent size bench vise, or decent brands of pliers, like Knipex.

    When I wanted a decent motion sensitive night-light, so I didn't bang my shins going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I went to Home Depot, Lowe's, Best Buy, Bed-Bath&Beyond, and a couple other places. They had shitty Chinese stuff that wasn't all that motion sensitive, or just stayed on for 10 seconds.

    It's so bad, I don't even try any more, even though the Best Buy is only a block away.

    The article starts off with "Amazon is famous for its extreme efficiency yet behind the curtain is a crippling culture of surveillance and stress"

    I'd think they go hand-in-hand.

    1. Trilkhai

      Re: I'd like to stop buying from Amazon

      I'd like to stop buying from Amazon But that would mean I'd have to stop buying anything, as local stores stock almost nothing I need.

      You're not stuck choosing between "Amazon" or "local" — there's no lack of other stores online that sell the same things, often for better prices.

      For example:

      Nowhere stocks ... decent brands of pliers, like Knipex.

      Taking the lazy route for the moment, it took me about two seconds for Google Shop to show me a whole bunch of places selling those — all of which have to also appear in regular Web searches in order to show up there, I believe.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: I'd like to stop buying from Amazon

      Go to your local store and ask. They might have the jack oil behind the counter. They may have pood the scrouch and should carry it, but it got dropped from the standard store stock list but they can have a bottle for you the next day.

      Hardware stores are often affiliated with a distribution network such as Ace or DoItBest in the US. They have a stack of catalogs of things they can order and have in short order with no delivery charge and no membership. I agree that Home Despot and places like it are useless for special orders. If they don't have it in stock, good luck.

      There are a couple of industrial hardware stores near me that have quality tools. They will also get in whatever I want in under a week if there is regional stock. Any large city will have a few of these stores and they're worth finding. They'll be buried in an industrial area and not in a strip mall. They are also open from 6am to 5pm rather than staying open late. The one I go to closes at noon on Saturdays and closed Sunday. It is a B2B shop and a candy store for nerds. I don't know of any other shop that stocks both imperial and metric grade 8 bolts in a large number of sizes. Not to mention fasteners in brass, nylon, aluminum, stainless as well as steel.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just how many oil drain pans do you need?

      They last for years (unless you run over them).

      Ok buy some good ones and look after them. They will end up costing you less over the years.

      I have a socket set that is still complete and used weekly that was a present for my 18th birthday almost 50 years ago. The case was rubbed down and repainted for I think the 3rd time last year but all the components are in perfect order.

      As for jack oil... Automatic Transmission fluid does the job. I made a Jack during my apprenticeship that uses that as fluid and is working as well today as it did back in 1972. I replace the oil seals and the oil every few years and that's it.

      You can exist without feeding money to Bezos via his stores.

  22. Joe Gurman

    For what it's worth

    "30 minutes for lunch and two separate 15-minute breaks during the day" is pretty standard for office workers in the US, and better than most factory/warehouse workers get. (Try 20 minutes for lunch and two breaks no longer than 5 minutes each for lavatory use.)

    The rest of this is hellish, and there's only one way for worked to do better, and that's to unionize. Mr. Bezos, of course, had harassed and fired anyone who's tried to organize, but the shortest look at labor history will tell the Amazon employees that they need to ally with a union with deep pockets that can afford to pay to keep all Amazon warehouse employees in a given geographical area in food and rent money for as long as it takes to bring him to the bargaining table. There aren't too many unions like that left in the US, but there are a couple. Considering the number of drivers Amazon employs now (who knows what it will be like when their droid flotillas blacken the skies), the Teamsters look like a good match.

    1. Bitsminer

      Re: For what it's worth

      The Teamsters? Didn't you hear? Jimmy's dead.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: For what it's worth

      The rot has spread a bit far for unions to make much immediate effect. California, like many US states, is a "right to work" state. This neat bit of DoubleSpeak just means that you can be fired at will at any time for any reason although you have the right to leave at any time for any reason. (We don't do Black Lists, of course....) This can make the job of anyone who even mentions the 'U' word a bit dicey. You'll find tips and tricks for organizing on youTube, they're worth watching because you'd be amazed at the legal minefied you'll have to negotiate to get union representation recognized.

      Amazon at least regards its employees as employees and they pay at least the prevailing minimum wage. The fact that this is crap wages &tc. is just the condition of many poor - especially minority poor -- in the US. Most jobs don't pay that much better. Since the trend is now to go for 'independent contractors' -- zero hours by another name -- the workforce can do a lot worse. The issue really isn't "Amazon", its the entire system. We only tilt at Amazon because "that's where the money is" but get a job doing anything similar -- supermarket work, building services, transportation -- and you'll find that these wages and conditions are typical. Crap, but typical.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: For what it's worth

        "Right to Work" also means you don't have to join a union to be eligible for a job. California is very employee biased, so while you can be fired for any reason, your employer has to still show cause and document a pattern of bad behavior on your part or you can collect unemployment and their rates go up.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: For what it's worth

      "(who knows what it will be like when their droid flotillas blacken the skies)"

      I'm skeptical about the droid delivery business model. It's an expensive way to do it which means that people aren't going to be ordering a 2-pack of bog rolls delivered by drone. It will be expensive tech. That means good hunting for the people that figure out how to jam the drones and force them to land. Not only might they wind up with the latest £1,000 phone, they can breakup the drone and sell off the parts. I wonder how long it will be before Banggood and AliExpress have a replacement main board for sale to drop into an Amazon drone along with a control box. Like they have for the rental scooters that litter larger cities.

  23. DS999

    Uncompensated time waiting in a security line?

    Didn't Apple have to pay out to its Apple Store employees a couple years ago for exactly that same thing? I suppose it'll have to drag out through the courts like the Apple thing did, though it would be nice if someone could just say "looks its the exact same thing and the courts have already decided it, so pay up now".

  24. martinusher Silver badge

    Its not just Amazon

    This kind of management by numbers was originally devised by Frederick Taylor in latter part of the 19th century -- 'scientific management', as it was called, relies on collecting large amounts of workforce productivity data in order to find ways to optimize workflow. Once the obvious causes of bottlenecks have been eliminated, though, the only pliable link in the chain is the humans in the workforce. The result is a cascading series of targets -- senior management communicates targets to middle management, middle management communicate targets to line management and line management impresses those targets on the workforce. Its a flawed system because it doesn't reckon with human ingenuity. Since the only choices the workforce have is to produce or die (i.e. get fired) they will eventually find ways to game the system. This might be difficult for people who work at a company that's got a lot of technology which is why there are complaints from the workforce -- the Amazon workforce isn't exactly wired up like the robots in "Metropolis" but they're effectively connected, monitored and generally kept under observation. This isn't peculiar to Amazon, though -- look at the Instacarts, the Ubers, anywhere where there is a an attmept to thwart reality and human nature to deliver a product ostensibly under market value and you'll see an overdriven, overmonitored workforce. (But at least Amazon pays minimum wage in the US......)(...that is, they're employees, not so-called 'independent contractors')

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Its not just Amazon

      "(But at least Amazon pays minimum wage in the US......)(...that is, they're employees, not so-called 'independent contractors')"

      Amazon has no way to argue that warehouse staff are independent contractors. Uber and Lyft have thumbed their noses at government using their size as leverage. It's a matter of control. I believe that drivers for Uber and Lyft should be classed as employees. They have no control over pricing and can get penalized if they don't provide a ride even if they don't like the look of the people when the arrive to pick them up. I'm talking about a load of obvious gang members or people that are drunk AF and likely to despoil the car at some point during the ride. U and L are also dictating vehicle requirements and abusing the fact that they aren't paying enough to compensate for the wear and tear on the car. Taxis are often ex-police cars that have been designed and built for extended service. Most passenger cars are built with the expectation that they'll sit most of the time and still last 10 years or more. Put one of those cars in taxi service and it's going to wear components out very quickly.

      I am an independent contractor. I set my prices (negotiated with the client). I use my own tools. I set my own hours and my services are marketed to many different companies. My customers do not guarantee any amount of work or any work at all. They don't impose any restrictions on my doing work for their competitors. I am free to decline any work they want to hire me to do with no penalty. I do all of my own accounting and carry my own commercial insurance. I maintain all of my licenses and pay for all continuing education and renewal fees. My customers only specify the final product and I decide how I'm going to get there. There is no "bright line" test, so it's good to stay as far to one side as possible. If I were to work exclusively for one client, I'd want to be considered an employee and have them pay the taxes and carry the liability. There wouldn't be much upside for me to be an independent contractor at that point. I could still negotiate a contract that gives me more flexibility on many things that are important to me.

  25. R.O.
    Mushroom

    Can U spell U N I O N ?

    This sounds like the old days at auto plants and industrial factories where employees were constantly tracked, even on bathroom breaks, fired at whim and endured summary layoffs for months on end. Then: THE UNION. Even then many organizers were beaten by company goons, even killed.

    Amazon is way overdue. Time to lighten Bezos wallet and give back to the employees that made him SO rich.

    Worker dudes: Shake off the brainwashing by the radical capitalists: There is true strength in numbers. You need:

    THE UNION.

    1. Fudd79

      Re: Can U spell U N I O N ?

      The only problem with that, if this article is correct, is that management can find out you just unionized, and then suddenly you "didn't meet a performance-quota", and you get a text that goes something like this:

      "Knock knock!

      Who's there?

      Not you anymore, you're fired!"

      This way they keep the unions out, and it also works as a deterrant against others trying to unionize. And as much as people may know the real reason for the firing, you'd have a hard time proving it in court.

      This issue needs a labor-court that refuses to cower to Big Money, that is willing to run a 10-year case against The Jeff, no matter the cost, just so they can set a legal presenence for future.

  26. cb7 Bronze badge

    I wonder if Bezos would still be grinning after a month on the shop floor working to the same "targets" with his balls wired up to some electrodes that delivered a nasty shock everytime he fell behind.

    Ditto "management".

    He'd automate every role there is if he could.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "He'd automate every role there is if he could."

      Likely and then the only jobs would be to oil the robots. Look up Kiva Robots. Amazon owns that and uses them in some warehouses. Items are brought to the packers and they pull the item with the laser shined on it and put is in the box at the position with the light on. When the order is complete, a different light lights up and they seal the box and send it on it's way. I'm not sure that working as a meat robot within a 1 meter square is better than running around a warehouse and grabbing things.

      The most popular displays at fast food conventions has been the automation. We'll get to McSwinies before too long. ("A Stainless Steel Rat is Born", by Harry Harrison).

  27. IceC0ld Silver badge

    from article :- We support people who are not performing to the levels expected with dedicated coaching to help them improve.

    helping them improve their knowledge on finding the way out by the sound of it ffs

    So the world's richest man, will not pay his people a living wage, but WILL spend on surveillance equipment that will not be cheap

    TL:DR the man's a twat

  28. USER100
    Flame

    This shitshow must end

    There is a reluctance to see what's going on here, and what has happened in the past few decades.

    It's all related - climate change, corporate profits, destruction of the environment, ever poorer conditions for employees... It's not a question of party politics (the main parties have been bought. The Greens seem ok but have no chance of any power under FPTP). Companies are legally bound to maximize shareholder profit above all else? WTF? They make their money by being embedded in the infrastructure (which taxpayers made) and by extracting natural resources, which no one made and (arguably) belong to everyone.

    martinusher mentions Taylor, but problems started with the industrial revolution, which was really a revolution for bosses.

    So it is down to the people, the employees. No political party will do anything. The only remaining way to effect change is by organising, i.e. collective power. However, such has been the massive historical influence of Murdoch & co, any such talk is deemed 'leftist' or even 'communist'. The so-called middle ground has slowly shifted waay to the right. Maybe in the seventies the unions did have too much power, but the pendulum has now swung much too far the other way. Employees are getting screwed and accepting it as 'just the way it is'. Well things can change, if enough people wake up and say "No mas".

    (Rant over.)

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: This shitshow must end

      "and by extracting natural resources, which no one made and (arguably) belong to everyone."

      Somebody had to find those natural resources, find a way to mine them and transform them into materials suitable for use in making products people want. Good luck with trying to overturn millennia of property rights perception. If there are valuable minerals under my house, do they belong to everyone? What would that mean to the structural integrity of my house should everyone exercise their "rights" to those minerals? Property is bought and sold for the resources on that property. Not just to put a house or strip mall on. In some instances in some countries, a claim can be made to extract resources on a piece of land owned by the "government". In the US, people can stake a claim for a mining gold if they meet certain conditions without buying the land. There is a tedious number of details I won't go into.

      1. USER100

        Re: This shitshow must end

        That's why I put in the caveat 'arguably'. If you find gold under your house, yes it's yours. I have no intention or ability to overturn millennia of property rights perception. I was merely making the point that most buisinesses are contingent on the infrastructure that has developed with society over time. That is, taxes have paid for public utilities like the roads, railways, the NHS (in the UK), the National Grid, etc. Some have been sold off since, but the point remains valid.

        As for natural resources, is it ok for businesses to appropriate and destroy large areas of rainforest, whether it be in Brazil, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea or wherever? That is a rhetorical question.

  29. xyzzy1

    Jeff Bezos is a complete a-hole

    He's the richest man in the world and he bleeds his workers dry to add to his billions. I won't be ordering from them anymore until they fix their employment conditions. I hope the workers unionise and stick it to Bezos.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Jeff Bezos is a complete a-hole

      "He's the richest man in the world and he bleeds his workers dry to add to his billions"

      Actually it's probably the other way round: " he bleeds his workers dry to add to his billions and he's the richest man in the world". Cause and effect, you know.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Jeff Bezos is a complete a-hole

      Jeffs billions are from stock. While he may be a complete bastXXd, he's not acquiring his billions by underpaying staff and skimming off the ill-gotten profits. A big portion of his net worth is also paper, not cash in the back. The value of that paper goes up and done by gamblers buying and selling Amazon stock.

      He "could" improve the employees lot by selling off stock and sending them all a bonus check. He "could" forgo any salary and have it go towards higher wages ($.02-$.04/hour?) Jeff is said to be drawing a salary of nearly $82,000/year. That's a paltry sum given the size of the company. I didn't look into total compensation, but I'm sure it's impressive.

      Amazon makes a pretty ho-hum margin on the backs of its slave labor and economy of scale. They aren't charging enough for the products they sell and the service they provide to be able to pay the lowest tier workers any more money. Plenty of people in the company are likely overpaid for their positions, but bringing those salaries down wouldn't be enough. They need to raise prices. The reason they get people to work for them and starve to death at the same time is they've gotten to the size where they've killed off any other jobs and are the only employers in town or one of only a few and will take people without a college degree.

  30. Slx

    It’s “tech washing” the dismantling of the 20th century

    There’s a serious problem with a lot of these companies. They basically take work practices that were struggled against in the late 19th and early 20th century, give them a new name, turn them into an app and all of a sudden it seems more palatable.

    Most countries were at their peaks when a typical blue collar worker could afford a decent lifestyle and had money to spend on nice things.

    We’re rapidly heading back to the 19th century, a world where most people worked very hard for very little money and had no job security.

    The problem is that if more and more jobs become like this, ultimately people won’t have the disposable income or time to spend on the products and services that make the economy function and the whole thing will just eat itself as wealth is ever more concentrated at the top.

    This isn’t really the modern capitalism that saw a booming US, Europe and elsewhere in the mid and late 20th century. It’s something far more primitive and old fashioned - we are sliding back to the days of oligarchy.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: It’s “tech washing” the dismantling of the 20th century

      Some of the issues are self-inflicted. Think of all of the things with a monthly bill that are "normal" now. Cable/sat TV, everybody in the home having their own phone, new car every 5 years, music/movie subscriptions, store membership fees, banks fees on every transaction rather than paying cash, and on and on. A 9 y.o. doesn't "need" a £200 phone. Everyone in a household with their own TV sucking up 200-300w each. Paying for music and movies they don't own a physical copy of and could, therefore, stop paying a service to listen to. It was great when you could buy the one hit song rather than the whole album but then the terms shifted so when you stop paying the monthly fee, They can delete your local copies on your phone/tablet. The movie you paid for suddenly is unavailable over the holidays when you might want to view it or put the kids in the other room to watch while the adults get potted.

      I grew up many years ago when dad brought home the bucks and mom looked after the house and kids. At least until I was 7 and they divorced. The difference was that there was far less emphasis on material wealth. I had plenty of toys, a bike and friends where I could go and we could play with their toys when I was bored of mine. On a nice day is was expected that I would go play outside. The alternative was to make my self useful and do some housework. I opted to go play outside. Later on when my dad remarried and had a ranch, I had a list of chores to do each day and spent less time playing. One TV in the house and I was the remote control under the direction of the dad. I was not unhappy and there wasn't 500 channels of nothing on so whatever he chose to put on wasn't going to be better or worse than what the other 5 channels were showing.

      I agree that effective wages have dropped considerably. Many blue collar jobs don't pay what they used to or have been taken over by automation. At the same time, people are nickel and diming themselves to the poor house. Not being able to do math is a hinderance. That 6 figure salary to work in San Francisco is tempered by the extremely high cost of living in SF or Cupertino. A person may have more money at the end of each month with half of that salary living in a lower cost region where it's better to raise a family. The house they could afford to buy would also have a lower tax assessment.

      1. USER100

        Re: It’s “tech washing” the dismantling of the 20th century

        Not being able to do maths is indeed a hinderance. Most of the governing class (in many cases despite their lack of ability) can do maths, thanks to their tuition at private schools.They were taught 'Classics', whatever that is. Their background almost guarantees them an Establishment job. So they see nothing really wrong with the system - which continues to teach maths very poorly to comprehensive kids. And so the cycle continues...

  31. osakajin Bronze badge

    When Amazon unionised you won't buy from them because they will be expensive , open from 9 to 5 with an hour for lunch and won't deliver on Sundays or public holidays.

    Don't get me wrong I grew up when this was normal and I'd rather go back to it than having same day delivery because.... really who needs that? I'd rather have the more equal and prosperous socioeconomic climate of the 80s than this disgrace of a society we have now.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      That's a bit hyperbolic. There are plenty of unionised jobs that are shift-based so there is no need to bring in the restricted opening hours argument. It is often used as an argument against unionisation. The higher costs are an unavoidable function of decent working conditions, though, but it is time we paid more for the good of baseline workers without whom nothing happens.

  32. ZeiXi

    If I don't intend to work hard, I should stay home. If I intend to be a good worker, I should make sure I am fit and alert for work every working day. If I take on a job, I should work hard. If I am working hard, as I should, do I need to worry about being spied?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      You are not wrong about work - do the best job you can whilst on the clock. There is a difference between supervision and spying, though. The reports here are definitely the wrong side of that line. Also, not having clearly defined targets is a recipe for too much stress. Tell people what they are meant to achieve and let them decide whether to exceed it. Also, in a job like those described here, when the shift ends, your time is your own - if the employer requires that security checks are done, they do it on their time, not the employees'. Build it into the time allotted to the shift.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "There is a difference between supervision and spying, though. "

        Much will depend on how the data is used too. If the goal is to improve systemic efficiency and not as the means to surveil an individual employee, no problem.

        I wonder if holding an employee for "security checks" can be considered kidnapping in some cases. They aren't free to leave and rather than being physically restrained, they are being financially restrained. I imagine that if they don't submit to the security checks, they will be sacked. I've seen some places where the exit is a one way revolving gate and the only other way out would be through a fire-door. Is that physical restraint?

        It should be hard to screen people. Scotty at Strange Parts (youtube) did a show in China of a small shop where everything had an RFID tag and you carded in and the system charged you for all of the items you took. He went on to research the tags and it's well worth watching. The tags are super cheap. They have to be if they are going to be used on a packet of crisps. The same sort of thing could be used to scan employees on the way in/out as the system would tell security what the item is. Somebody like Amazon could require vendors to include the tags inside the packaging so It can't be easily removed. If an employee is bringing in a product with a tag on it, it can be found and removed so it won't bark on the way out.

        Theft can be a huge problem in a big facility that carries high cost small items though it's easy to segregate those items so they are handled in their own area. Any mixed order with some high value products would be assembled with the lower value stuff first and the unsealed box sent to the high value area for final loading and sealing. Just like people working in a bank vault, workers in a high value area should understand they are being watched much more closely and that's just part of the job.

        When I had a manufacturing company and later when I managed another one, I ended the work shift 15-20 minutes ahead so things could be put away and cleaning done rather than tools being left out and work in progress left as whatever stage it was in when the clock said it was time to leave. I never saw that as man-hours lost. On the contrary, it was time saved the next day or at the start of the next shift not looking for tools or trying to figure out where work on something had been stopped. I also like having a clean shop every once in a while.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazon's DSP delivery drivers are on an app that detects their every move. They know where you are constantly. They know if you take too long at a delivery location. It's the biggest big brother scheme of all time. And I've worked at a sort center and I thought taking a restroom break was off limits because they couldn't find you within their metrics or TOT.

    Fire people? That's a joke. You don't get trained! You have no idea what's expected of you. It's a joke! Kill people in a crappy environment yet expect them to meet quotas that change daily.

    Call me a coward... I don't give a sh*t. I still need my job!!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazon DO give chances

    I work for Amazon in north west UK. They often give us a rate, that is probably made up. In the robotic side, normally on Pack it's around 220 - 230 on Multis, 160+ on Singles, and Pick is higher, normally double of two packers as you're picking for two on one wall, so Pick is about 350 - 400. They have what is known as ADAPT, where if your performance isn't good enough they will come round coaching you. If after 9 attempts you haven't improved, they sack you.

    The rate seems to change depending on load, they often say it's "collective" and that we as a team set the rates. Probably bollocks, but I have them on record saying it so if I ever have to go to a tribunal they're gonna get fed their own lies. After two years working for them it's always been the same procedure, so can't say whether the media's version is true at other FC's or other parts of the world. And yes, there are cameras EVERYWHERE.

  35. Aseries

    Taught to hate unions

    Conservative propaganda has taught most Americans to hate the idea of labor unions. Right to work laws and outright illegal intimidation of union movements have mostly destroyed such activity except where long entrenched for many decades. Without a union in workplaces such as Amazon the result of suppression is obvious in a return to labor conditions right out of Charles Dickens. Interestingly, the strongest unions are law enforcement who support conservative politicians, judges and prosecutors. Wisconsin Governor Walker suppressed all the State public unions except the State Police, among his strong supporters.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Taught to hate unions

      "Conservative propaganda has taught most Americans to hate the idea of labor unions. "

      A lot of what unions fought for has been codified into law. They can still be useful, but many people don't want to be required to pay a portion of their small wage packet to an organization that advocates for things that they don't like. Want to take a holiday job at UPS? In the US you have to join the union, pay an initiation fee and have dues withheld from you pay for a job that's often in the wee hours of the night for a few hours. You could work for a couple of weeks before breaking even and then only be contracted for a month or 6 weeks until the holiday rush is over. You'd be better off taking work elsewhere because you are required to join the union and pay their cumshaw to get the job.

      I worked for a union for a while (you are more an employee of the union than the business) and it sucked. Stewards on power trips and the most asinine and counter sense policies that can be imagined. Things like being 2 minutes from finishing a task but required to stop and take a scheduled break in a designated area and then have to return to where you were working for that last two minutes. That could means stairs, ladders, getting out of an enclosed space, etc. I've always worked to the task and not the clock. I found that leaving for lunch a bit later than everybody else meant not waiting in line, finding a seat and a longer period not having to put up with certain co-workers. I also like working salaried jobs since some days I might hit a natural stopping point in my work early or a bit later and could just stop there. If I finished early, I can come up with endless ways to mump until 5, but I'd rather go home. On days I might need to stay late, it means being able to put a line through an item on my to-do list and I could start something fresh the next shift. For engineering work, it's much more efficient to not have to pick up something later as it takes time to reacquaint oneself with where you were. Works for me.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Taught to hate unions

        "pay an initiation fee and have dues withheld from you pay"

        How much do the unions charge? Over here (France), the CFDT charges 0,75% which for a low salaried worker (as Amazon people would be) is about eight or nine euros a month. Less than a packet of fags these days.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They cannot legally make their employees stay an extra 25 minutes to an hour without compensating them for that time. I would suggest the employees make a claim with the wage board. I'm sure this will end real fast if the wage board is aware it's happening.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not use eBay?

    Here in the UK, apart from groceries, eBay is almost always better than Amazon. Better prices, better products, and far far better customer service when things go wrong, as in they have it and it really works as opposed to none at all with Amazon.

    With the big plus that you are generally dealing with a small business with warmer ambience that brings.

  38. julian.smith
    Big Brother

    Ain't that America somethin' to see

    Ain't that America somethin' to see, baby?

    Ain't that America home of the free, yeah?

    From the beacon on the hill to the beacon in the gutter

    Is there any bottom to the American journey?

  39. Newbee
    Megaphone

    Not Quite

    This article portrays Amazon in a way that is absolutely not true. I've worked for Amazon, so I know. The claims made here are a flat out lie or a complete exaggeration of the policies in place and how they are implemented in the warehouses of Amazon. Your resources are obviously a very few unhappy disgruntled ex-employees. Amazon employs thousands upon thousands of people throughout its company, and the majority of them are happy and choose to work for Amazon. It's a great company, great benefits, and in honest opinion, STRESS FREE. So, unless you have worked there yourself, or personally know someone that has, you should not believe this propaganda.

  40. Boosh

    Freedom is slavery

    Amazon, as a service, is cheap and highly efficient. Amazon, as an employer, is horrific. There has never been a better practical demonstration of Orwell's imagined future - ironically, as Amazon is supposedly the beacon of free-market capitalism.

    A successful business model will be widely copied. Ergo, as things stand, Amazon is the future of work. Freedom is slavery.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Freedom is slavery

      Freedom is the abdication of thought. To have somebody do all of your thinking for you and simply tell you what you are to do is so liberating. Until it isn't.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE. Re. Freedom is slavery

    The sort of telemetrics is rife in a lot of jobs.

    I've heard numerous reports of the pandemic causing existing rules to be enforced, and even workers punished for not using the right mask, being made to PAY FOR THEIR MASKS at full rates meaning they are working for free 1 hour a day, etc.

    The pi*ss bottle story is completely true, and no matter what Bezozoth says its going on to this day.

    AC, because I have to check my coffee for polonium.

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