Workers employed in the warehouses of online retail giant Amazon are paid poverty wages, work 50-hour weeks, and walk up to 11 miles during the course of a shift in which they are expected collect one order every 33 seconds.
A number of undercover reports have exposed hyper-exploitative conditions in the warehouses, which employ an extra 15,000 staff to deal with the Christmas rush. One worker told the BBC that conditions in the warehouses were comparable to “a slave camp”.
Workers’ productivity rates are monitored, and they face disciplinary sanctions if their work levels drop too low. Professor Michael Marmot of University College London said that the conditions faced by the workers increase the risk of physical and mental illness.
The GMB union has some members in Amazon warehouses, but says the employer is so hostile to workers organising that it is forced to operate “underground”.