Peeing in bottles to avoid being penalized for taking a break? Welcome to the new normal as American Corporate Oligarchy invades the rest of the world. The stink of our "profits over people" mentality is currently invading England in the form of an Amazon package.
James Bloodworth went undercover in order to write about low wage jobs in the UK. He joined the ranks of employees at an Amazon warehouse, and learned of workers so desperate to keep their jobs that they feared taking bathroom breaks.
"For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flights of stairs… People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being disciplined over 'idle time' and losing their jobs just because they needed the loo."
A company spokesperson claims “Amazon ensures all of its associates have easy access to toilet facilities which are just a short walk from where they are working,” but the facts say otherwise. In the 700,000 square foot warehouse some of the 1,200 employees are 1/4 mile, and ten minute walk from a bathroom. Breaks are monitored strictly and the time is not excused by supervisors when calculating whether they’ve met productivity goals of two items per minute. It’s like a Kafkaesque trap for anyone who chooses to be human.
A separate survey confirms the undercover authors findings with 3/4 of Amazon warehouse employees saying they fear penalties for using the bathroom. https://www.organise.org.uk/blog/2018/2/9/whats-it-like-working-in-an-amazon-warehouse-the-results "I do not drink water because I do not have time to go to the toilet,” said one respondent. This was found to be true for pregnant women as well who were also penalized for being sick. One respondent was given a disciplinary strike even after presenting a Doctor’s note for an illness. At least in the UK the workers can actually go to a Doctor for free and get that needed note.
Amazon denies timing breaks, denies penalizing people who are sick and claims to be “named by LinkedIn as the 7th most sought after place to work in the UK.” Again, those pesky facts get in the way. Workers are searched when they enter the warehouse and again when they leave, being patted down and scanned to make sure they haven’t stolen anything. This search time, incidentally, is off the clock. The warehouse has also banned hoodies, phones and sunglasses. Sounds wonderful. I’m surprised they aren’t the number one most sought after place to work.
The glorious brand of American Capitalism strikes the UK. Delightful.
By Being Liberal contributor: Sarah Ficca