In his new book Hired: Six Months Undercover In Low Wage Britain writer and journalist James Bloodworth goes undercover at Amazon to find out what life is like for those working in its warehouses. And while the online retailer says otherwise, it sounds as if its "fulfilment" centres are anything but.
“You carried around with you this hand-held electronic device which would monitor whereabouts you were in the warehouse. It was also a countdown timer, so as soon as you collected your item, because you spend most of your day scanning items and putting them in baskets, as soon as you scan an item the timer would flip and it would be counting down”, he explains. According to James, employees had to follow this timer all day. It’s the sort of gamification that Amazon would never want to see streamed on Twitch.
This is all part of what James describes in the book as Amazon’s strike system, where each employee earns a strike for all sorts of minor infractions - and if you hit six, you get sacked. What makes this particularly draconian - and hence the alleged peeing in bottles - is that these infractions can be incredibly minor, such as turning up 30 seconds late for work, or even (as James experienced in the book) calling in sick.
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