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 centres 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.
Baker said: “It’s hard, physical work, but the constant stress of being monitored and never being able to drop below a certain level of performance is harsh. You can’t be a normal person. You have to be an above-average Amazon robot all the time.”
Baker said some employees were suffering from musculoskeletal problems, work-related stress and anxiety. “We’re seeing this specifically because of the regimes they work under.”
Amazon UK has been approached for a comment on GMB’s claims. Employees’ working and personal lives were tracked and quantified, with their movements, productivity and successes or failures being constantly measured, while managers were forced to rate their employees and fire their lowest-scoring workers, according to the article.
Instant replies to emails were expected, even if sent in the middle of the night or the weekends, and employees were apparently encouraged to secretly funnel their back-stabbing or praise through Amazon’s “Anytime Feedback Tool”.
The interviews described Amazon’s atmosphere as one that saw employees actively competing against each other, where the fully committed who were prepared to make sacrifices to get ahead thrived, while others were stamped on.
More than 7,000 staff work at Amazon’s UK distribution centres in Hemel Hempstead, Milton Keynes, Swansea, Peterborough, Rugeley near Stafford, Doncaster, Dunfermline and Gourock in Inverclyde.