Original image shot by Crusty Streets
If you go anywhere near Tilbury, you can’t help but notice the massive, recently opened Amazon warehouse that stretches along the north west edge of the town. From the outside, it looks to be a state of the art facility offering halfway decent employment opportunities. The reality is very different as Alan Selby writes in the Mirror: Timed toilet breaks, impossible targets and workers falling asleep on feet: Brutal life working in Amazon warehouse – http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/timed-toilet-breaks-impossible-targets-11587888
Selby’s report deserves to be read closely as it shows that when it comes to workers rights, we’re heading backwards. To be honest, his report comes as no real surprise… This is the brutal reality of employment in 21st century Britain – short term contracts, little or no job security, the constant threat of the sack if you don’t meet increasingly demanding and harder to fulfil targets. With a proportion of ‘underperforming’ workers set to be sacked and replaced by those even more desperate for a job, the management at Amazon have succeeded in pitting workers against each other – it’s the ultimate in divide and rule.
Staff turnover is high as workers, even those desperate for employment, simply cannot cope with the brutal physical and mental demands of the work and have to leave for the sake of their heallth. Ambulances are called in on a regular basis to tend to workers who have collapsed from exhaustion. That matters little to Amazon as they know there’s a plentiful supply of people desperate for work who will take the place of those who depart. Ignore the bullshit Amazon spout about how they ‘value’ their staff – they just see the people working for them as interchangeable production units to be discarded at will if they can’t keep up with the relentless demands of the warehouse.
What has to be born in mind is that the Tilbury warehouse operates within all the legal requirements for health and safety, and employment law. Which shows that when it comes to looking after the well being of workers, employment law in this country isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. There’s no meaningful union representation at Tilbury – mind you, given how crap the mainstream unions are, it wouldn’t make a heck of a lot of difference if there was.
Welcome to the dark, Satanic warehouses of 21st century Britain. When it comes to treating workers like dirt, there’s little to mark out Amazon from a 19th century cotton mill up in Lancashire. A message needs to be sent out to the likes of Amazon that there’s only so far they can push people before they fight back. If any of the fringe unions such as the IWW or IWGB want to get involved down here, we’ll do what we can to offer our solidarity. Meanwhile, if you are thinking about doing your online shopping with Amazon – remember, clicks have consequences, one of which is perpetuating a brutal culture of exploitation…