Jeff Bezos is reportedly worth close to $112 billion, and is believed to be the richest man in the world, according to USA Today. As the CEO of Amazon, Bezos is doing quite well for himself. But it’s allegedly been achieved at the expense of everyday workers that keep his business functioning. In particular, the Amazon “pickers,” who are charged with finding purchased merchandise from shelves, are treated horribly, according to Business Insider. The publication dove into the issue and interviewed several Amazon workers, the result of which paints a dark picture of what’s really going on behind the scenes.
One of the complaints that workers had was about bathroom breaks. One employee recounted how they discovered a horrible smell coming from trash cans, and they believed that it was urine. They explained that some people fear losing time from their job duties, so in order to meet their quota, they urinate in trash cans or bottles. Others describe how they avoid drinking water on the job, so they won’t need to go to the bathroom as often.
Also, workers are not allowed to do anything a regular employee often does at the workplace, like talk to coworkers or grab a drink. Anything that cuts into the employee’s work time is quickly punished with a penalty point, which can eventually lead to the person getting fired.
And when it comes to lunchtime, there’s no respite then either. If employees want to leave the warehouse area, they’re forced to stand in line at the metal detector, which employees reported only leaves about 10 minutes out of their 30 minute break for themselves.
Each picker is also closely monitored. Their scanner tracks how quickly or slowly they are working, and if they fall behind, they are quickly warned by supervisors to speed up. Bathroom breaks and any “time-off-tasks,” a phrase which refers to any time an employee is not actively working, are also tracked and counted against the employee.
All of these rules and surveillance led to workers feeling like “robots” and “slaves.” Meanwhile, Amazon spokespeople have denied all of the claims, saying that employees have ample time to use restrooms and that metal detector lines are only “30 to 60 seconds on average.”