Amazon Workers Are Being Left Homeless and Unable to Work
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Photo: Facebook/North Texas Amazon Workers

Amazon Workers Are Being Left Homeless and Unable to Work


Amazon workers are being left without income or support – leaving some employees homeless and unable to work, a shocking new investigation into the working conditions of the multi-national firm’s fulfilment centres has revealed.

There have been numerous cases of Amazon workers suffering devastating accidents at work and being left without an income or any kind of financial support from the company, according to an in-depth investigation by the Guardian.

This is the latest in a series of reports into the practices at Amazon warehouses. 

Back in April, a survey revealed that of 100 fulfilment centre workers, more than half suffered from depression and eight said considered suicide.

Amazon’s fulfilment centres were branded as one most dangerous places to work in the United States by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health in their latest report, also published in April 2018.  

The latest revelations comes weeks after it was revealed that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is now worth in excess of $150 billion (£113bn) – making him the wealthiest person in history.

According to a feature by Michael Sainato, there have been numerous cases of Amazon workers being badly treated after suffering an avoidable injury at work.

Back in April, warehouses owned by Amazon were included on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s so-called "dirty dozen" list of the most dangerous places to work in the United States.

Amazon’s relentless focus on fulfilling a high demand of orders has resulted in unsafe conditions for its employees, the investigation found.

An employee called Vickie Shannon Allen, 49, started working at a fulfilment warehouse in Texas back in May 2017.

According to the investigation she started noticing managers asking her questions about time – such as bathroom breaks and productivity.

"What they do is code your time, and they are allowed to change it at will. To me, that’s how they get rid of people," said Ms Allen.

Last October, Allen injured her back while counting goods on a work station that was not fitted with a brush guard – a piece of safety equipment designed to stop products falling onto the floor.

The company’s medical triage area gave her a heating pad for her back and she was sent home by management each day without pay.

"I tried to work again, but I couldn’t stretch my right arm out and I’m right handed," she explained.

Ms Allen was without pay for three weeks but still had to drive 60 miles each way to get to the warehouse at the start of the work day in order to be sent home.

She finally managed to get on worker’s compensation, only to return to work in January 2018 and injure herself on the same workstation, which had still not yet been fixed.

The company did not fit the missing brush guard until June 2018.

Management offered her a week of paid leave and tried to offer her $3,500 (£2,670) to sign a non-disclosure agreement not prevent her from saying anything negative about the company, which is headquartered in Seattle.

Ms Allen declined to sign and currently lives in the car park of the Amazon fulfilment centre. She told the Guardian she sometimes goes for days without eating.

She is one of a number of workers who have been left without the correct level of care following an accident in the workplace at Amazon.   

"We don’t recognise these allegations as an accurate portrayal of working at Amazon", a spokesperson for Amazon told MailOnline.

"We are proud of our safety record and thousands of Amazonians work hard every day innovating ways to make it even better."

"Amazon has created over 130,000 jobs in the last year alone and now employees over 560,000 people around the world. Ensuring the safety of these associates is our number one priority."

Earlier this year, a survey revealed that some Amazon staff feel suicidal since joining the company. The survey was carried out by Organise, which campaigns for employment unions.

James Bloodworth, who worked ten-hour shifts at a warehouse in Rugeley, Staffordshire, claimed staff were peeing in bottles because they were scared of getting in trouble for taking toilet breaks. 

The Rugeley warehouse measures 700,000 sq ft and some of the 1,200 workers face a ten minute, quarter-of-a-mile walk to two toilets on the ground floor of the four-storey building.

He said: "For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flights of stairs."

Mr Bloodworth, who worked as a picker selecting goods for dispatch, walked ten miles a day in the job to research for a book on low-wage Britain.

He revealed workers were continually monitored for time wasting by supervisors and claimed the strictness was what caused the ‘toilet bottle’ system.

Mr Bloodworth said: "People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being ­disciplined over ‘idle time’ and ­losing their jobs just because they needed the loo."

He said the warehouse in Rugeley is like a prison with airport-style security ­scanners where workers are checked and patted down in case they steal.

"The security guards at Amazon were endowed with a great deal of power, which included the right to search your car if they suspected you of stealing something."

Hoodies and sunglasses were banned along with mobile phones as a ­security measure, he said. 

The staff surveyed anonymously by Organise also complained of being punished for being ill.

"I had an epilepsy episode at work and was taken to hospital. The next day someone rang me and asked why I was not in work," one worker told the Sunday Mirror.

Nearly three quarters of those polled said they were so frightened of missing productivity targets that they’d starve themselves of water so they wouldn’t need the toilet.

Amazon denies claims of workers’ stress in its warehouses, saying they’re not convinced the ‘staff polled’ actually worked for them.

A spokesperson for the company said: "We haven’t been provided with confirmation the people who completed the survey worked at Amazon."

"We don’t recognise these allegations as an accurate portrayal of activities in our buildings."

"We have a focus on ensuring we provide a great environment for all our employees and last month Amazon was named by LinkedIn as the 7th most sought after place to work in the UK and ranked first place in the US."

"Amazon also offers public tours of its fulfillment centres so customers can see first-hand what happens after they click ‘buy’ on Amazon."

"Amazon ensures all of its associates have easy access to toilet facilities which are just a short walk from where they are working."

Author: Brinkwire