An ex-Amazon worker alleges disturbing details about the reality of working at one of the company’s warehouses in the UK. According to the Sun, fulfillment workers reportedly pee into bottles instead of using the bathroom, due to Amazon’s intense pressure for them to meet quotas.
The report comes from an interview with James Bloodworth, an author who worked at Amazon's warehouse in Staffordshire for research on a forthcoming book about low wage jobs in Britain. He also previously published a report for Times UK where he discussed the pressure that workers face to not be punished for being “idle.”
“For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flights of stairs,” Bloodworth told the Sun. “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.”
In both pieces Bloodworth describes the warehouse like a prison, where workers are there for 10-hour shifts or longer and are not allowed access to their cell phone or take frequent breaks. Workers are also reportedly patted down often, when they’re suspected of stealing products. “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,” he said.
As the Daily Dot points out, Bloodworth’s interview echoes a survey of 100 Amazon employees that was published on Sunday by the worker’s rights group Organise. Per the survey, nearly three-quarters of employees try not to use the toilet because they are afraid of missing their performance mark. “I do not drink water because I do not have time to go to the toilet,” an anonymous worker was quoted in the survey.
However, Amazon has disputed the claims of both the survey and Bloodworth's interview. “Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace for thousands of people across the UK with competitive pay and benefits from day one,” a spokesperson told the Sun. “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.”
Bloodworth's account isn’t unbelievable though, considering Amazon has wristbands that workers are required to wear in order to track their efficiency. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos became the richest person in history a few months ago. Go figure.