The GMB workers union has said it is “very concerned” by “robotic” working conditions for staff in Amazon warehouses.
The GMB held protests last week at Amazon warehouse sites around the UK, demanding fairer pay and better working conditions for staff.
GMB national officer Paul Clarke said a key issue for workers was the strapping of hand-held computers to every employee, so that managers can warn them to work faster if they are behind on targets. He said: “We are very concerned that they are effectively robotic working conditions. Colleagues are electronically tagged so that management can monitor them and give them the equivalent of an electronic cattle prod if they are not performing well enough, sending them messages saying: ‘You are below your target, hurry up.’ It is the closest thing to electronic tagging in the workplace I have ever come across.”
Clarke also said staff suffered blisters after having to walk between seven and 15 miles around the huge warehouses and felt intimidated by security guards who constantly frisked them during workers’ breaks.
Amazon hit the media spotlight last week after a German documentary broadcast scenes of employee intimidation from black-uniform-wearing security guards from a security firm which the programme claimed had links to neo-Nazi groups. The company denied the claims, but Amazon fired the firm with “immediate effect” shortly afterwards.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “We are proud of providing our associates with a safe and positive working environment which includes on-the-job training and opportunities for career progression.”