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Jeff Bezos Amazon

Amazon under fire from UK union chief: ‘You have to be an above-average Amazon robot all the time’


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

August 18, 2015 | 2 min read

Amazon has taken yet another blow this week as a UK union head ravaged worker conditions at its distribution centres and the alleged expectation that staff members must be an “above-average Amazon robot all the time”.

Following on from a highly critical New York Times article painting the company as a hellish workplace “conducting a little-known experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers, redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable”, Amazon chief executive Jim Bezos spoke out almost immediately afterwards.

He said: “I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either.”

Since that incident unravelled on Monday, similar workplace complaints have cropped up in the UK from GMB trade union lead officer for Amazon, Elly Baker.

Condemning the UK distribution centres which boast around 7,000 employees, she told the Times: “It’s hard, physical work, but the constant stress of being monitored and never being able to drop below a certain level of performance is harsh.

“You can’t be a normal person. You have to be an above-average Amazon robot all the time.”

Bezos may not recognise the Amazon being outlined in the various complaints but the CEO is based in the Seattle headquarters, not one of the many distribution centres spread across the e-commerce giant’s operations worldwide.

As Amazon works on automating its distribution processes with drone experimentation, it seems the push for workplace efficiency is causing conflict among human staff.

Jeff Bezos Amazon

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