“You don’t really believe in this story of urinating in bottles, do you? If that were true, no one would work for us ”. On March 25th, it was with this sentence
(in response to criticism from Mark Pocan, a US congressman) that Amazon was caught in a flood of complaints. On Friday night, in a statement, the company acknowledged the mistake and apologized to the politician: “The tweet was incorrect. We did not contemplate our large number of drivers ”.
Paying workers $15/hr doesn't make you a "progressive workplace" when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles. https://t.co/CnFTtTKA9q— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) March 25, 2021
Amazon denied workers urinated in bottles and received evidence to the contrary
We know that drivers can and have difficulty finding toilets because of traffic or, sometimes, rural routes, and this was especially the case during Covid, when many public toilets closed, ”says Amazon.
Amazon recognizes that delivery routes are tightened to the point that they are prevented from going to the bathroom to fulfill everything they are asked to do. However, according to the technological giant founded by Jeff Bezos, its distribution centers have all the necessary conditions. “A typical Amazon distribution center has dozens of bathrooms and employees can leave their workstations at any time. If any employee at a distribution center has a different experience, we encourage you to speak to your manager and we will work to correct that ”, he promises.
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[Abaixo, o tweet de Pocan que iniciou a polémica, no qual o político alega que pagar 15 dólares à hora não é válido quando se tem trabalhadores a urinar em garrafas, e a resposta polémica da Amazon]
Even assuming that the Congressman gave a wrong answer – “The tweet did not receive due scrutiny”, he defended himself – the company claims that this problem is more comprehensive: “This is an old problem that covers the entire sector and is not specific from Amazon ”. Because of this, the online shopping platform and services in the cloud says it will “look for solutions” to resolve this issue.
Although Amazon says that the problem of going to the bathroom does not happen in distribution centers, there have been several reports of workers stating that this may not be true. This type of situation has been reported for several years, as in 2018, in a company warehouse in the United Kingdom. This story was later published in the book by journalist James Bloodworth of The Guardian: “Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain” [em português, “Contratado: Seis meses infiltrado na Grã-Bretanha de baixos salários”].
This Amazon tweet comes at a time when workers at one of Amazon’s centers in Alabama, USA, are trying to create a union to protect them. For several years, the company has been trying to prevent workers from distribution centers in the USA from organizing into unions. However, these votes in Alabama, due to be announced next week, could change the way Amazon treats its employees, as The Verge explains.
Workers who want a union to do so because they are saturated with what they say are abusive practices by the company, such as controlling each task by the second, not allowing moments of rest. If they manage to create a union in Alabama, more Amazon factories can start doing the same. This will force the company to have to negotiate differently with its employees.
In the last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company recorded an unprecedented increase in business since the beginning of the pandemic, due to restrictions and social distance, which forced physical stores to close and eliminated much of the competition from the digital platform. . In the United States alone, Amazon has added 175,000 new workers since the pandemic began.
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