Amazon workers forced to sleep in tents, reports claim

Warehouse staff are worked "until they drop"

Amazon faces accusations of fostering "intolerable working conditions" at a Scottish warehouse, following reports that some workers are camped in tents outside depots in order to save money commuting.

The complaints originated from Amazon's fulfilment centre in Dunfermline, Fife, where activists have also claimed that staff can work up to 60 hours per week for very little money.

Speaking to The Courier, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claimed that the situation is caused by the company charging employees for transportation. "The fares the company charge for transport swallow up a lot of the weekly wage," he said, "which is forcing people to seek ever more desperate ways of making work pay."

An Amazon spokeswoman said all warehouse workers are on a starting wage of 7.35 an hour or more, and at least 11 an hour for overtime; the wage goes up to 8.15 an hour or more after two years.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"It confirms that Amazon have created intolerable working conditions for many," Rennie told the Guardian. "The company don't seem to be interested in keeping workers for too long as they work them until they drop. They have generated an oppressive culture where management and some workers put undue pressure on workers."

A Sunday Times investigation also found that employees were punished for taking sick days, and that water was regularly unavailable despite some staff having to walk up to 10 miles a day while on the job.

Amazon's spokeswoman told IT Pro: "Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace with competitive pay and benefits from day one. We are proud to have been able to create several thousand new permanent roles in our UK fulfilment centres over the last five years. One of the reasons we've been able to attract so many people to join us is that we offer great jobs and a positive work environment with opportunities for growth."

Adding that the safety and wellbeing of its "permanent and temporary associates" comes first, the spokeswoman said all workers get health and safety training, and that the company monitors its procedures to improve healthy and safety on its sites.

The spokeswoman said warehouse jobs cover a range of activities, saying: "Some roles involve walking a number of miles each day, a fact we make clear during the recruitment process. Many associates seek these positions as they enjoy the active nature of the work. There are many opportunities for people who prefer less active roles."

She said productivity targets are based on previous workforce performance levels, but that it is measured over a long period of time. "We support people who are not performing to the levels expected with dedicated coaching to help them improve," the spokeswoman added.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The company has previously come under fire for allegedly similar treatment of its delivery drivers, who were reportedly under such strict time pressures that they were forced to urinate in bottles and speed on the motorway.

Workers' groups have also raised concerns about the impact Amazon's increasing push towards automation - such as its cashierless Amazon Go store - will have on unskilled jobs.

This article was originally published at 11.46 on 12 December, and was updated with comment from Amazon at 17.34 the same day.

Featured Resources

Digital Risk Report 2020

A global view into the impact of digital transformation on risk and security management

Download now

6 ways your business could suffer if you don’t backup Office 365

Office 365 makes it easy to lose valuable data regularly, unpredictably, unintentionally, and for good

Download now

Get the best out of your workforce

7 steps to unleashing their true potential with robotic process automation

Download now

8 digital best practices for IT professionals

Don't leave anything to chance when going digital

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/technology/artificial-intelligence-ai/354710/amazon-to-help-businesses-develop-custom-voices-for
artificial intelligence (AI)

Amazon to help businesses develop custom voices for Alexa

5 Feb 2020
Visit/cloud/cloud-computing/354478/microsoft-has-an-edge-on-aws-according-to-it-executives
cloud computing

Microsoft has an edge on AWS, according to IT executives

8 Jan 2020
Visit/cloud/354231/the-it-pro-podcast-is-the-future-multi-cloud
Cloud

The IT Pro Podcast: Is the future multi-cloud?

29 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/mobile/28299/how-to-use-chromecast-without-wi-fi
Mobile

How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

5 Feb 2020
Visit/operating-systems/27717/how-to-fix-a-stuck-windows-10-update
operating systems

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

12 Feb 2020
Visit/security/34616/the-top-ten-password-cracking-techniques-used-by-hackers
Security

The top ten password-cracking techniques used by hackers

10 Feb 2020
Visit/security/cyber-security/354827/mcafee-researchers-trick-tesla-autopilot-with-a-strip-of-tape
cyber security

McAfee researchers trick Tesla autopilot with a strip of tape

21 Feb 2020