Australian Amazon worker treated unfairly

This May 2018 video says about itself:

According to Business Insider, who spoke with numerous Amazon warehouse employees, conditions for workers are so bad, they pee in bottles out of fear of getting their pay docked for taking a break. The Resident discusses.

By Oscar Grenfell in Australia:

Australian Amazon worker alleges unfair dismissal

13 December 2018

A worker who was employed by a labour hire firm at Amazon’s Sydney warehouse has launched legal action alleging that he was unfairly dismissed for joining a trade union and asking management for a greater number of hours per week.

According to an article in the Guardian on Tuesday, the worker, named only as Raj, has initiated a general protections case in the Fair Work Commission, the federal industrial tribunal, demanding reinstatement. An initial hearing, held on November 29, did not resolve the dispute, and the case is likely to come before a federal court next year.

The allegations shed further light on the draconian regime that prevails in warehouses operated by the global retail giant around the world. It follows dozens of reports of workplace injuries and unfair terminations, along with onerous working conditions and poverty-level wages.

According to the Guardian, Raj worked as a forklift driver at Amazon’s Sydney facility after being hired by Adecco, the labour hire firm that provides the company with the bulk of its workforce.

Raj was reportedly the first employee at the Sydney warehouse to join the SDA [Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association]. Raj, and the union, claim that he was directed by management not to wear an SDA cap and lanyard during work hours. Management also allegedly objected to union organisers distributing leaflets to workers.

The Guardian stated that Raj became involved in a dispute with Adecco after asking for more work hours. On October 5, he met with a union official at the Amazon centre while a member of management was in the room. Four days later, on October 9, he was dismissed by Adecco. …

In a video produced by the SDA, Raj stated: “It is unfair treatment just because I’m in the union. I need to pay the bills, so I need a job, without a job you can’t survive. What happened to me was not fair. I just want to get back to work at Amazon.”

The case points to the extreme nervousness of Amazon over the prospect of any opposition emerging from its super-exploited workforce.

The company has a global contract with Adecco to supply labour. As a result, the vast majority of its workforce is not employed by Amazon. This is aimed at suppressing any push for wages, minimising Amazon’s liability and employing Adecco’s “labour management” practices to suppress any unrest.

Amazon began operations at its Melbourne warehouse at the end of 2017, at a 24,000 square metre facility in the working-class suburb of Dandenong. A substantial proportion of its workforce, numbering several hundred, is made up of lowly-paid migrant workers.

The company launched a Sydney facility earlier this year. Workers are employed on the Road, Transport and Distribution Award, which provides for a minimum wage of just $19.37 per hour. As casuals, they are not entitled to sick pay, holiday pay and other entitlements.

In comments published in the Sydney Morning Herald last September, one Australian Amazon employee described his workplace as a “hellscape”.

“I’ve never worked anywhere as harsh, and it’s frustrating because the head of Amazon is the richest man on the planet”, the worker said. In July, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ personal net wealth surpassed $150 billion, making him the richest individual in modern world history. Bezos’ fortune grows by around $US3,000 every second.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald article, Amazon workers, termed “associates” by the company, begin each day with group stretching exercises. They are then required to share “Amazon success stories”, before being led in a team chant extolling the company by managers.

Workers told the Fairfax-owned publication that they are given electronic scanners which direct them to aisles in the facility to collect products.

The scanner has a black bar at the bottom of the screen, counting down how much time they have left to reach the next item. If a worker fails to reach the product quickly enough, their pick rate is marked down. Workers who do not meet their targets have allegedly had subsequent shifts cancelled. Because the employees are casuals, they can also be instructed at short notice that they are not required to work when orders are down.

A worker stated that the targets meant, “You end up not being able to function because you’re so nervous and stressed out.” Another said it was common not to drink water, or use the bathroom during gruelling shifts, for fear of falling behind. They alleged some workers did not report injuries for fear of losing their job.

The conditions are a microcosm of the brutal character of modern capitalism, with millions of workers facing low-paid, casual work and unbearable conditions, at companies owned by a tiny corporate and financial elite. There is undoubtedly widespread opposition among Amazon workers.

Angry New Yorkers confront Amazon execs at city council meeting: ‘You’re Worth $1 Trillion. Why Do You Need Our $3 Billion?’ The online retail giant has said its new headquarters in New York will create 25,000 jobs for residents—a claim one protester derided as “smoke and mirrors”: here.


9 thoughts on “Australian Amazon worker treated unfairly

  1. Strike by Amazon workers in Spain and Germany against dangerous work conditions

    Amazon workers at the San Fernando de Henares fulfillment centre in Spain and fulfillment centres in Graben and Leipzig, Germany, came out on strike December 7.

    The workers at all three sites were protesting dangerous working conditions and to oppose the company’s anti-union stance. Amazon workers in Germany have been in dispute and have taken intermittent strike action since 2013 to demand a collective bargaining agreement.

    According to the Gizmodo science and technology website, further strikes are planned for December 15 and 30.


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