Amazon Ethical Issues
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Ex-Amazon workers talk of 'horrendous' conditions
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An Amazon spokesperson said the company has a comprehensive medical accommodations process. He was required to pack at a rate of items per hour. He said workers are regularly fired for missing rates. Juan Espinoza, who worked as a picker at the Amazon Staten Island warehouse, quit because of the grueling working conditions. Ilya Geller, who worked as a stower, told of the pressure workers face from being surveilled by computers to ensure productivity rates are met. Jimpat Lacewell started working at Amazon in Staten Island in November as a sorter, but quit after three days because it reminded him of prison — not least because of the minute wait to get through security in and out of the facility.
Other Amazon workers at the New York City warehouse were reluctant to speak on the record for fear of retaliation, but also reported unaddressed safety concerns and frequent worker injuries. They explained their second injury was a result of their manager ignoring medical restrictions from surgery on his right foot. Another order picker said they are constantly dealing with chronic lower back pain and knee pain due to the job.
An Amazon associate who transferred to the New York City warehouse to help train the new workers said they transferred to a different warehouse because their safety concerns and suggestions were repeatedly ignored by upper level managers. They characterized the PIT lane as a highway for equipment such as forklifts and electric pallet jacks. Amazon has admitted that thousands of agency workers who make its Echo smart speakers and Kindles in China were hired and paid illegally.
Amazon disclosed that its own auditors visited the Foxconn factory in March and found that it had hired an illegally high number of agency workers and was not paying them properly for working overtime. Agency staff — known as dispatch workers in China — do not get sick pay or holiday pay and can be laid off without wages during lulls in production. In the case of the Foxconn Hengyang factory, Amazon completed its most recent audit in March and identified two issues of concern.
We are committed to ensuring these issues are resolved. The investigation also reveals that the Hengyang workers are paid far less than Foxconn workers in other Chinese cities. The investigation produced payslip evidence to show that workers can work up to 80 hours of overtime in a month, rather than the 36 hours normally permitted by law. And with a changing of the guard in Congress, privacy and antitrust concerns will be key issues to watch as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle step up their scrutiny of the power of Big Tech.
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