While Amazon purportedly strives to be the “Earth’s Best Employer” and “Earth’s Safest Place to Work”, there have been continuing reports of its employees being subjugated to unsafe working conditions and unfair treatment on a global scale, including its warehouse workers.
In late 2018, Amazon increased the minimum wage of its employees to $15 an hour in the US . Critics argue that the wage increase was in response to negative reports surrounding the treatment and working conditions of its warehouse workers. However, further reports note that with the increased minimum wage came the slashing of bonuses, leaving some warehouse workers worse off; the minimum wage increase barely impacted Amazon’s fourth-quarter operating costs of $68.6 billion that year.
Amazon claims that it “provides a safe and positive workplace”, however there are numerous reports of injuries occurring in warehouses, unattainable performance targets and unfair treatment of workers.
Since the global pandemic, Amazon’s profits have experienced a 37% increase in year-on-year quarterly sales as reported in October 2020 . This amounts to over US$96.1 billion in revenue. CEO Jeff Bezos’ net worth also experienced dramatic growth in 2020 and now exceeds US$200bn, making Bezos one of the richest people on the planet. There is a massive income disparity at Amazon, highlighted by a report which states that it takes eight weeks for an Amazon warehouse worker to earn what Jeff Bezos makes in a single second vi. After the recent unionisation vote by Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama, Bezos publicly acknowledged that Amazon needs “to do a better job for our employees”. Now is the time for Amazon to follow up with meaningful action. An independent audit of Amazon’s workers would shine a spotlight on warehouse workers’ unsafe working conditions and unfair treatment, forcing Amazon to both acknowledge the disparity between reality and its purported goals of being the “Earth’s Best Employer” and “Earth’s Safest Place to Work” and to enact positive change that will improve conditions for its warehouse workers.