A recent controversy involving working conditions in the Amazon spread after executive commentary by Dave Clark in a provocation to Senator Bernie Sanders. Clark posted on Twitter praising the benefits of working for the e-commerce giant, but a counter-argument published by a member of the US Congress caused many people to report the exact opposite.
According to workers working in the delivery sector, conditions are so precarious that they force drivers to urinate in bottles to hit targets. Amazon has denied such accusations, but there is apparently evidence that the situation is real.
Democrat Mark Pocan responded to Clark’s tweet stating that “Paying workers $ 15 / hour doesn’t make you a progressive workplace when you break the union and make workers urinate in water bottles,” bringing up reports of 2018, which denounced such unhealthiness.
Amazon immediately took a stand, denying the allegations. “You don’t really believe in this thing about peeing in bottles, do you? If that were true, no one would work for us, ”said the company’s profile on Twitter.
Despite this, there is evidence not only that there are drivers urinating and defecating inside the vans, but also operational records that show that Amazon was aware of everything.
Records reveal that drivers “urinated and defecated in public”
According to documents obtained by The Intercept, the company’s logistical management identified these actions as recurring infractions, effectively doing nothing to alleviate the causes behind all this – except to impose more pressure on drivers.
A spreadsheet with a January date and confidentiality label provided by an Amazon employee in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, details the infractions. Among several actions, there is the specification “urinating in public” and “defecating in public”.
In addition to the infraction spreadsheet, there is also an email sent by an Amazon logistics manager in May 2020. The text asked another employee responsible for the delivery fleet to advise drivers not to urinate or defecate on Amazon stock exchanges. , under threat of punishment. According to the e-mail, transcribed below, it was the third time that the infringement was repeated in two months.
“Tonight, an associate discovered human feces in an Amazon bag that was returned to the station by a driver. This is the third time in the last 2 months that the bags have returned to the station with feces inside. We understand that associated drivers may have emergencies while on the road and, especially during Covid, drivers find it difficult to find restrooms during deliveries. Still, they cannot, MUST NOT, return the bags to the station with poop inside.
We noticed a recent increase in all types of unhealthy garbage being left in bags: used masks, gloves, urine bottles. By scanning the QR code on the bag, we can easily identify the promoter who had the bag last. These behaviors are unacceptable and will result in Level 1 Violations in the future. Communicate this message to your drivers. I know if it may seem obvious or something you shouldn’t be training, but be explicit when communicating the message that YOU CANNOT poop or leave urine bottles in bags.
The health and safety of all Amazon drivers and associates will always be our priority. None of us should be dealing with this kind of situation. Please reply and confirm that you have received this email. ”
The website Motherboard also claims to have received evidence about the allegations… Photos of themselves pee bottles. According to the vehicle, the identity and function of the delivery person were confirmed.
Pressure to hit goals is the cause of the problem, drivers say
Amazon does have policies that prohibit this type of situation, and stipulate a type of punishment for such occurrences, but the rules are “hypocritical”, according to workers.
“They give us 30 minutes of paid rest, but you won’t finish your job if you do it, no matter how fast you are,” a Massachusetts-based Amazon delivery man told The Intercept.
“I can tell you that if I drove to find a bathroom, I would be bringing packages back every night and that would eventually mean that I would have infractions, which would lead to termination,” explained another worker to Motherboard.
Things would have gotten even worse with the high demand for deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Over the course of my time there, our package and stoppage count has increased substantially,” said Halie Marie Brown, 26, who served as an associate driver.
Drivers will be monitored by AI-powered cameras
To make the situation even more complex, Amazon started demanding the monitoring of drivers full time inside the vans, with cameras powered by artificial intelligence.
Many drivers protested the new rule, saying it is “another way to control them” and calling it an “invasion of privacy”, but Amazon defends the idea by arguing that it is an investment in security.
“We are investing in security in our operations and we recently started to launch industry-leading camera-based security technology in our delivery fleet. This technology will provide drivers with real-time alerts to help them stay safe when they are on the road, ”a company spokesman told The Verge.
Amazon has yet to make a new statement on documents that reveal the company’s knowledge of the wastes left by van drivers.
With information: The Intercept and Motherboard