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Allegation in Great Britain: Amazon should treat robots better than employees

Accusation in Britain
Amazon should treat robots better than employees

For the first time, Amazon workers in the UK are walking off their jobs. Above all, employees are demanding higher wages. Two union leaders report how the company is trying to maximize every minute at their dispatch center.

Amazon workers in the UK are on strike for the first time for better working conditions. Unions allege panel talks BBC News site Before even treating robots better than their own employees. “If we stop work, they immediately want to know why,” Garfield Hilton told the broadcaster. Even going to the toilet for a few minutes can raise questions as it is recorded on the computer.

So the GMB union called on its members to stop working at the dispatch center in Coventry – with other locations likely to follow. Workers are demanding higher wages, with Amazon’s offer last summer representing an increase of just 50p (around €0.57) an hour.

According to two workers, their supervisors write up any time not spent scanning packages. However, there may be other functions as well. “If a plate or a box has problems, this time will be written,” Darren Westwood was quoted as saying by the broadcaster. This method falls into inactive account. “Technically it can take up to 30 minutes,” he explained. Then the managers told them, “You had 34 minutes of idle time today. What did you do?”

Busy: Every minute should be maxed out

Both workers told the BBC that some of their colleagues were working up to 60 hours a week to cover the increased cost of living. Hilton explained that some workers fell asleep on the bus ride to the dispatch center. He said Amazon wants to “maximize every minute of use in the building.”

When asked by the BBC, an Amazon spokesman defended the system: it recognizes good performance and helps employees achieve their goals. Regarding the strike, Amazon indicated that only a very small number of workers were organized and unionized. No firm statistics yet.