Contrary to the impression given by peak-time TV ads featuring (alleged) bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Amazon workers extolling the feelgood “work hard, play hard” ethos of the company, new figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act suggest that life as an Amazon galley slave is not all one big party.
It turns out that in the last three years alone local authorities have received 622 accident reports involving Amazon warehouses in Britain, whilst the annual total has risen from 152 in 2016-17 to 230 the following year and 240 last year.
When cases have been investigated, a root cause has frequently been identified as fatigue resulting from prolonged and high-paced work over long hours.
One accident report revealed that sorting baskets had been overfilled, concluding that “the main root cause of this incident was failing to provide a safe working environment”.
And when a forklift truck driver backed into a steel structure, bringing it crashing down, the report blamed “long working hours”. The worker who blew the whistle on that occasion begged investigators not to identify him for fear of losing his job.
Amazon is valued by Wall Street at $1tn, making its owner Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world, with a personal fortune of $137bn.
It is clear that this obscene wealth has been built on the blood of workers, as well as their sweat and tears.