The working conditions and safety practices of Amaiozn.com in the United Kingdom are under the scanner as calls for a parliamentary inquiry into safety of workers at the largest e-commerce company of world get louder as reports reveal that in the past three years, more than 600 workers of the company have either been seriously injured or narrowly escaped an accident.
Following a string of embarrassing revelations about working conditions – particularly at its warehouses, Amazon recently launched an advertising campaign which showcased contented staff members. The company was founded by Jeff Bezos – the richest man in the world currently and the largest shareholder of Amazon.
Safety for workers at more than 50 warehouses of the company in the United Kingdom has however not improved and might rather by worsening, found a report issued by the GMB trade union which based its conclusion on new figures obtained by it under the Freedom of Information Act.
Over the past three years, a total of 622 accident reports involving Amazon warehouses have been received by local authorities in the UK. The total number of annual accidents reported has increased from 152 in 2016-17 to 230 in 2017-18 and 240 in 2018-19.
After a self-employed contractor at a London warehouse of Amazon tried to resume work after having suffered a head injury was taken unconscious and appeared to stop breathing, according to reports.
The report that also investigated the nature of the accidents concluded that sorting baskets had been overfilled and that “the main root cause of this incident was failing to provide a safe working environment”.
An incident in which a forklift truck driver reversed into a steel structure, which brought down some of it, was blamed on a lapse of concentration due to “long working hours”. This accident was reported in 2015, before the period covered by the figures in the report. An Amazon worker who declined to come out into the open because they were “worried about getting sacked”, was the one to report the accident, shows internal emails from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), according to reports.
“The warehouse injuries suffered by Amazon workers are beyond appalling. I stand ready, if and when Amazon’s workers take strike action and protest, I will be there with them. The Tories need to start taking workers’ rights seriously and standing up to businesses like Amazon. I call on an urgent investigation – workers simply cannot wait for their conditions to improve,” said Lisa Nandy, the MP for Wigan and a Labour leadership contender.
“In my 30 years in the world of work I cannot remember any company clock up so many injuries to its workers. I have been inside the giant Rugeley depot and heard first-hand from frightened workers of the 77 serious incidents in Rugeley alone. Amazon purports to be a 21st century company. It behaves like a 19th century mill-owner. [Its] owner, the American billionaire, Jeff Bezos, should be called to account by parliament for his actions,” said Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington.
There is need for the UK parliament of investigate the safety conditions at the warehouses of the online retailer because of the increase in the number of accidents and near-misses, the GMB said. “Amazon are spending millions on PR campaigns trying to persuade people its warehouses are great places to work. But the facts are there for all to see – things are getting worse. Hundreds of stricken Amazon workers are needing urgent medical attention. Conditions are hellish,” said Mick Rix, GMB national officer.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)