Orwell’s 1984 for British workers

This 16 April 2018 British TV video says about itself:

Amazon denied overseeing employees’ bathroom breaks at its U.K. fulfillment center, where an alleged whistleblower claimed staff were forced to urinate in bottles to save time.

The Amazon staff at the 700,000-square-foot warehouse in Staffordshire, England, was accused of “break abuse” if they were two minutes late to return to work, undercover investigator James Bloodworth wrote in his new book, Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain.

The bathroom-break accusations against management at the 13 U.K. fulfillment centers detailed how employees used a “toilet bottle” system to quicken trips to the distant bathrooms. Bloodworth said that fears of being accused of “time-wasting” were compounded by the 1,200 workers having a 10-minute, nearly quarter-mile walk to the two ground-floor toilets. Previous reports on worldwide Amazon warehouses suggested that workers walked an average of 10 miles each day in the cavernous spaces and had a tracking system on their person that followed their movement and productivity on the clock.

From daily News Line in Britain, 18 August 2018:

THE TRADE Union Congress has conducted a survey which indicates that more than half of workers in the UK, some 56%, are being monitored by their boss. Bosses are reading workers’ emails, filming them through hidden cameras, searching employees in the morning on the way into work and before they leave, measuring their ‘productivity’, timing their toilet breaks and even tracking their movements and location using electronic tags!

This level of surveillance makes the dystopian future painted in George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four seem pale in comparison. TUC boss Frances O’Grady said: ‘Monitoring toilet breaks, tracking every movement and snooping on staff outside of working hours creates fear and distrust.’

The TUC research shows that bosses:
• Use facial recognition software and mood monitoring.
Monitor the social media accounts of employees.
• Record workers’ locations on wearable or hand-held devices.

Truck drivers have their every move monitored by an onboard tracking system which records the vehicle’s location, speed and stops for breaks. Installing spy cameras in drivers’ cabins is a move the truckers say breaks the camel’s back – and they are furious!

When an undercover journalist took a job at a Sports Direct warehouse, the results were shocking. A fingerprint scanner grants access to the building through security barriers.

A tannoy system blares out if workers don’t move quickly enough – ‘please speed up with your order as soon as possible’, the speaker system barks – while ‘crimes’ against the company are called ‘strikes’. These ‘crimes’ include ‘errors’, ‘excessive/long toilet breaks’, ‘time wasting’, ‘excessive chatting’, ‘horseplay’, ‘wearing branded goods’ and ‘using a mobile phone in the warehouse’. These are all punished. Six strikes in six months and you’re out. Quite fittingly the warehouse in Shirebrook is known locally as ‘the gulag’. Now, Amazon has patented a wristband that tracks warehouse workers’ every movement and uses ultrasound to identify the precise location of a worker’s hands as they retrieve items.

Amazon already has a reputation for turning low-paid staff into ‘human robots’ – working alongside thousands of proper robots – carrying out repetitive packaging tasks as fast as possible in an attempt to hit goals set by handheld computers. Machines are constantly taking over jobs. Supermarket cashiers have been replaced by machines, as have bank workers and London Underground ticket office workers.

Capitalism offers zero future for the working class. Either work like a robot, or a robot will take over your job! This is the madness of capitalism; it must be overthrown! The Office for National Statistics (ONS), earlier in the week produced new figures on ‘productivity’. The ONS also said ‘output per hour’ was up by 1.5% – the biggest rise since late 2016, while also showing that wages had not risen.

In other words, workers are being driven to work harder and faster for less and less money. This is the essence of capitalism, to squeeze as much profit out of every single worker as they can. And what in return? Workers are now given a wage so low it does not even cover the minimum they need to feed their family, pay their gas, electric and rent and get back to work the next day. As a result, many take out payday loans just to pay their bills. You have the emergence of the working poor and now the working homeless. This is the world that the TUC has discovered in its survey.

It is a world that the TUC and the UK trade union movement has allowed to emerge right under their noses without lifting a finger to stop it. Automation under capitalism means the bosses returning the working class and its youth back to the conditions of the early 19th century.

It can only be used for the benefit of humanity if the capitalist system and the capitalist class are removed and replaced with a worldwide socialist planned economy.

After its amazing discovery, the TUC cannot be allowed to go back to sleep.

Both the employers and trade unions representative bodies have expressed alarm at reports that UK firms are considering implanting staff with microchips for security. UK firm BioTeq says it has already fitted 150 implants while Swedish firm Biohax has claimed it is in discussions with several UK firms. (p.2). This is deeply sinister stuff, straight out of the X-Files. Never mind the bonkers conspiracy theories about aliens inserting implants into our bodies to control us, ordinary human capitalism is beginning to do that: here.

THOUSANDS of transport workers in Britain have no access to toilets while working, unions have warned. RMT and Unite published research into lack of access to toilet facilities on World Toilet Day today. World Toilet Day is a United Nations initiative highlighting lack of sanitary facilities in developing countries. But the two unions said the initiative is relevant in Britain, the world’s fifth-largest economy: here.

27 thoughts on “Orwell’s 1984 for British workers

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  2. Thursday, 23 August 2018


    AVERAGE weekly earnings in the UK are £13 lower than they were a decade ago, a think tank study has found. Job insecurity is now ‘widespread’, with 800,000 workers on zero-hours contracts, according to the Resolution Foundation (RF).

    The RF asked: ‘So who has found work? The evidence shows that those on lower-incomes, and people that tend to find it hard to access the labour market, have been the main beneficiaries. Between 2008-09 and 2016-17 employment increased by 2.1 million. ‘Over half (55 per cent) of the people that moved into work lived in households in the bottom third of the income distribution, two-thirds came from the poorer half of households.’

    RF senior economic analyst, Stephen Clarke, said lower-income families had accounted for the majority of the jobs growth. He warned: ‘Britain is still some way off full employment and too much work remains low-paid and insecure. ‘Steps to provide advance notice of shifts and a right to a regular contract for those working regular hours on a zero-hour contract would also help those in work who have precious little job security.’

    TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘It’s taking wages longer to recover from this (2008) crash than it did after the Great Depression. ‘The government is turning a blind eye to Britain’s living standards crisis. Ministers must get wages rising faster now.’

    John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said: ‘These figures show the disastrous impact of nearly a decade of austerity on earnings, with workers in the UK losing out under Tory rule. ‘The findings are a stark example of how brutal Tory pay restraint and austerity has led to a crisis in living standards for families.

    ‘Labour will be a government for the many, not the few. We will reverse the disastrous Tory austerity agenda and give workers a decent pay increase, while ensuring the richest pay their fair share of tax to fund the public services we all need.’



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