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Shedding Light in the Darkness

Amazon Exposed – The Heavy Human Cost of Cheaper Stuff

Amazon.com-worker-David-B-001

We all like our Amazon deals, but what about the human cost on those who work at Amazon? The New York Times has just exposed a toxic work culture. According to the article, the company’s best workers are known as Amabots, because they are almost like cyborgs. “If you’re a good Amazonian, you become an Amabot,” said one employee.”

“At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others.”

“Losers leave or are fired in annual cullings of the staff — “purposeful Darwinism,” one former Amazon human resources director said. Some workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover.”

“A woman who had breast cancer was told that she was put on a “performance improvement plan” — Amazon code for “you’re in danger of being fired” — because “difficulties” in her “personal life” had interfered with fulfilling her work goals.”

“In Amazon warehouses, employees are monitored by sophisticated electronic systems to ensure they are packing enough boxes every hour. (Amazon came under fire in 2011 when workers in an eastern Pennsylvania warehouse toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away laborers as they fell. After an investigation the company installed air-conditioning.)”

Last month, Amaxon eclipsed Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the country, with a market valuation of $250 billion.

In response to the report one NYT reader commented: “Midway through this article, after reading stories of how employees going through devastating personal losses were treated, I cancelled my Audible membership, deleted my Kindle app, and will no longer be shopping from Amazon. I cannot support a company that so purposefully creates a negative environment for its employees. It’s disgusting, it’s immoral, and I hope others feel the same after reading this article.”

Update: Now similar allegations have surfaced in the UK. Staff at Amazon’s UK operation have developed physical and mental illnesses because of the “regimes” they work under, the GMB trade union has warned. Employees at the online retailer’s distribution centers across the UK were under pressure to be an “above-average Amazon robot”, the GMB’s lead officer for Amazon, Elly Baker, told the Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html?_r=0

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