‘Power hour’ or Workers’ power?! – Reports from two Amazon workers, Hemel Hempstead, Winter 2017/18

Given what we’ve already written about the Amazon facility at Tilbury: Are Amazon digging a hole for themselves at Tilbury? – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/are-amazon-digging-a-hole-for-themselves-at-tilbury/ and: Dark, Satanic warehouses… – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/11/27/dark-satanic-warehouses/ – we feel these reports from workers at Amazon’s facility in Hemel Hempstead offer some interesting insights into the operation, the dynamic among the workforce and the potential to take on Amazon in a fight for better conditions…

Angry Workers of the World

Inside Amazon

With our series of Amazon workers’ reports [1] we hope to not provide yet another sad victim story of how Amazon turns humans into semi-robots. We leave this to the mainstream media. We want to dismantle the myth of Amazon being the all-powerful and well-organised global giant. We want to support the small but important efforts to turn Amazon’s international structure into the basis for a global exchange and coordination of workers:

https://amworkers.wordpress.com/

We want to use the reports to address workers around us. We have to do this face-to-face and for this aim we have written and distributed leaflets at Amazon Hemel Hempstead this winter. We spoke to workers at the company bus stops in west London in the morning and with Amazon workers at the warehouse:

https://angryworkersworld.wordpress.com/2017/12/20/leaflet-for-amazon-workers-december-2017/

Two of our friends wrote reports after working at the Hemel Hempstead FC. Feel free to circulate them and to get…

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Leaflet for Amazon workers – December 2017

This is the text of a leaflet aimed at Amazon workers in Hertfordshire and West London so not all of what’s written will be applicable for the situation at the Amazon facility in Tilbury. However, it’s a sign that workers who’ve had enough of their treatment by Amazon are starting to organise and fightback. This is something we hope will happen at Tilbury as well. We’re seriously thinking about producing a flyer aimed at Amazon workers in Tilbury for early next year…

Angry Workers of the World

original-4501-1402615262-11Amazon workers in Hemel Hempstead and Amazon Flex workers in West London: Let‘s learn from the struggles of our colleagues in Italy, Germany and Poland!

Click here for PDF version: AmazonBW

It‘s peak season and work sucks the life out of us. The media presents us as victims, losing the competition with Amazon‘s robots. That sucks too. We can show them that we are no victims.

In Hemel Hempstead we have many problems:

* The picking target of 120 is too high, and it‘s raining verbal and written warnings. Management makes temp workers hit higher targets for the season, and then makes the regulars reach those targets throughout the whole year. ‘Power Hour’?! – No, thanks!

* PMP and Adecco pay low. They advertise £10 an hour, but you have to kill yourself with overtime to get it. Some guys work 60 hours plus. The more hours we work per…

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Dark, Satanic warehouses…


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 warehousehttp://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…