Οι συνθήκες εργασίας στο Amazon...
Working conditions at Amazon are notorious. It deliberately builds “fulfilment centres” in areas with high unemployment.
Before workers can go home at the end of their eight-hour shift, or go to the canteen for their 30-minute break, they must walk through a set of security scanners.
Next to the scanners is a life-sized cardboard image of a cheery worker. “This is the best job I have ever had!” pronounces a speech bubble
Workers are divided into four main groups. There are the people on the “receive lines” and the “pack lines”.
Some unpack, check and scan every product arriving. And some pack up customers’ orders at the other end of the process.
Another group stows away suppliers’ products somewhere in the warehouse. They put things wherever there’s a free space.
Workers use handheld computers to scan both the item they are stowing away and a barcode on the spot on the shelf where they put it.
So only Amazon’s computers know where everything is.
The “pickers” push trolleys around and pick out customers’ orders from the aisles. Amazon’s software calculates the most efficient walking route to collect all the items to fill a trolley.
“You’re sort of like a robot, but in human form,” according to one Amazon manager. “It’s human automation, if you like.”
Pickers holding computerised handsets are perpetually timed and measured as they fast-walk up to 15 miles per shift.
They are expected to collect orders in as little as 33 seconds.
The white collar workers aren’t much better off. Amazon encourages its “Amabots” to harshly criticise themselves and each other for their shortcomings.
Team members are ranked, and those at the bottom get eliminated every year. It is deliberate policy to keep turnover high.
In 2011 multiple ambulances famously parked outside a US Amazon warehouse during a heat wave.
They were there to collect and ferry overcome workers to emergency rooms. Afterwards Amazon installed air conditioners. Less well known is that the air conditioners’ arrival coincided with the expansion of the warehouse into holding groceries.
Every warehouse has its own “continuous improvement manager” with techniques borrowed from the car industry. As Marc Onetto, the senior vice president of worldwide operations, put it, “They are not consultants, they are insultants, they are really not nice.”
Some people also patrol the warehouses pushing tall little desks on wheels with laptops on them—they are “mobile problem solvers” looking for any hitches that could be slowing down the operation.
Managers can text the hand held screens to tell a worker to hurry up or to issue a warning.
There is a strict “three strikes and release” discipline system—“release” being a euphemism for getting sacked.
An employment agency called Randstad handles the recruitment.
Randstad calls this sort of system “Inhouse Services” and describes it as a “flexible work solution designed exclusively for each client to optimise the workforce and drive cost effectiveness”.
Employees wear blue ID badges. Agency workers wear green ones. “They dangle those blue badges in front of you,” one ex-Amazon worker told the GMB union. “On Christmas Eve an agency rep with a clipboard stood by the exit and said, ‘You’re back after Christmas. And you’re back. And you’re not. You’re not.’ It was just brutal.
“It reminded me of stories about the great depression, where men would stand at the factory gate in the hope of being selected for a few days’ labour.
“You just feel you have no personal value at all.”
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