Amazon is officially the most profitable company in the entire world. Over 145.2 million people used the Amazon mobile app in the US alone in March of 2019. But recently it’s been under fire, for how it treats its warehouse workers and delivery drivers, even being blamed for the death of innocent civilians. Some have encouraged boycotts of Amazon Prime Day–Amazon’s annual sales day. Still, Many things have come to light about how Amazon is are getting treated but it is unclear whether the company will pay any long term price.
Amazon delivery drivers told Business Insider that in order to meet the company’s expectations, they are forced to urinate in bags, run stop signs and skip breaks. Amazon has said that their drivers are encouraged to take breaks whenever they need. According to an investigation by the New York Times and Pro Publica, the drivers are expected to deliver 999 out of 1000 orders on time. An Amazon spokesperson said that there’s no quota of deliveries, there’s just encouragements on how many they have to deliver. An extensive investigation by Buzzfeed describes drivers needing to deliver a package every 2 minutes throughout their entire 8-hour shift. Amazon driver have been linked to over 60 accidents and 10 deaths since 2015, although the actual number is expected to be higher.
The company has said that they’re not responsible for any deaths because Amazon hires independent workers so Amazon isn’t liable for any accidents or injuries.
Amazon warehouses are also coming under fire in this year. A recent investigation showed that over 600 ambulances showed up at the British Amazon warehouses. Many of these calls were suicide-related and the rest were physical injuries due to the write safety precautions not being in place
Warehouse conditions have been described as including timed bathroom breaks, intense pressure, and excessive monitoring. A review of 911 calls, and ambulance and police reports by the Daily Beast shows that over five years, emergency workers were called to Amazon warehouses 189 times for reasons related to suicide and mental health crises.
In 2018, Vox did an interview with an Amazon employee named Seth King who described the working conditions as so grueling that they brought him to “the lowest point in [his] life.”
“You spend 10 hours on foot, there are no windows in the place, and you’re not allowed to talk to people — there are no interactions allowed,” King said.
“I got a sense in no time at all that they work people to death, or until they get too tired to keep working,” he said. “After two months, I felt I couldn’t work there and maintain a healthy state of mind.”
King stated that he had financial problems even though he was working for 10 hours daily at Amazon plus he had a side job of being a security guard. He had to take on a second job as a security officer to earn enough money for the essentials to living.
In Europe also, workers in Amazon factories walkout in protest how badly they felt they were getting treated. Workers in Italy, Germany, Spain, and the UK staged their protest on Black Friday of 2018.
One of the sources of much of the pressure being put on warehouse workers and drivers is Amazon’s promise of next-day delivery which is free for Amazon Prime members.
Amazon’s Prime subscription dramatically increases revenue. Over 100 million subscribers worldwide pay $119 USD a year or $12.99 per month to be a Prime subscribers. An analyst estimated that that number will rise to over 275 million in the next decade. On average, someone who owns a Prime subscription will spend $300 more than an Amazon shopper without it.
It is a truism of the Amazon era that people expect convenience and that’s exactly what Prime offers. Despite how drivers get treated or how inhumane the warehouse workers are getting paid, Only a small amount of Prime subscribers have canceled their subscriptions.
But Amazon Prime members may not be willing to sacrifice the convenience that the subscription offers. If consumers have to choose between convenience or human rights, that may prove to be a difficult choice.
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