Bah, humbug

amazon.jpgTwitter has been abuzz all day with the news in the run-up to Christmas, online retail giant Amazon.com is giving its packing staff an extra dose of festive cheer by forcing them to work long hours – even if they’re ill.According to an investigation by The Sunday Times, the company shows its appreciation to staff packing boxes in its ‘fulfilment centres’ by making them work toward unrealistic targets, making them work a 10½ hour shift on Saturday nights, and imposing penalties on workers who take sick days, even if they have a note from a doctor.Workers are made to pay £8.50 a day to use a communal bus to the warehouse, are told they have to pack 140 Xbox consoles per hour – that’s 2.3 per minute – to reach their target, and ‘pickers’, workers who collect items off shelves for packing, are made to walk up to 14 miles a shift. They even have to ask for permission to go to the toilet.It’s a grand example of a management technique so outdated, Smarta had assumed it had died out altogether. Frightening staff and giving them unattainable targets isn’t a motivator, and staff who are constantly in fear of losing their job won’t be motivated.With turnover expected to hit £13bn this year, it’s no surprise a company as large as Amazon has unscrupulous employment practices. It’s a company which refers to its employees as ‘associates’ and systematically hoovers up its competitors: we don’t know why we expected more.

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