Amazon Faces Work Anomaly AllegationsBy Rodrigo Brugada | Wed, 05/19/2021 - 19:26
Last month, Reuters released a piece detailing several alleged cases of worker abuse by Amazon. Former Amazon workers in Mexico told Reuters that were mistreated or unfairly dismissed after being recruited through outsourcing practices to work in warehouses. Interviews with workers, copies of payslips and WhatsApp messages from Amazon HR reveal that many had to work overtime beyond legal limits, while others were let go without severance, forced to resign or laid off after falling ill with COVID-19.
Workers also expressed irregularities regarding long working hours that may have exceeded a 60-hour workweek, low wages barely above the minimum wage, unwarranted outsourcing practices through recruitment agencies like Adecco and DHC and predatory practices regarding documentation. As also reported by America Retail, the workers stated that they had to undergo severe job instability without ever knowing if, or when, they would be fired. They said they saw these precarious working conditions as a means to the end of potentially becoming a full-time employee, which entails some benefits like a company savings scheme.
For its part, Amazon stated it complied with current labor laws in all the countries where it holds operations and added that nothing was more important to them than the safety and well-being of its employees. Some labor lawyers responded that several of the practices described by the workers broke Mexican labor law, including forced overtime, the use of outsourcing for non-specialized work and layoffs without severance. As reported by LJA, Alejandro Salafranca, the head of STPS' Decent Work Unit, stated that while there is no formal complaint against Amazon nor recent inspections, following the criticism about these conditions a proper investigation might ensue.
This phenomenon is not unique to Mexico but seems to be standard across all Amazon warehouses regardless of nationality. While Amazon was an already well-established company before the pandemic, the latter's arrival marked an increase in the use of Amazon’s services. With this increase came a surge in workers' allegations of poor working conditions, including no bathroom breaks, close tracking of employees and demands to work during the pandemic without appropriate PPE. These allegations come not only from across the US but from around the world.
Amnesty International released a statement urging Amazon to respect workers' rights. The company also faces allegations surrounding pollution and lack of sustainability. Top-bottom changes are also necessary to alleviate this situation, such as Mexico’s recent labor reforms.