Amazon warehouse like a ‘sweat shop’ says former worker

A former Amazon employee from Derbyshire claims working in the company’s “sweat shop” warehouse left him with back and hip pain after only four weeks. The Chesterfield man, who asked to remain anonymous, says he spent a month at the company’s branch in Sheffield, near the Sheffield Arena, but described his experience as “the closest thing to a sweat shop I can imagine it legally being in the UK”. He says he nearly quit after the first day but they told him “most British people walk in and then walk straight out on the first day”.

He then took it upon himself to try and keep going for as long as possible as “a bit of national pride was at stake here, I’ve got to show them that Brits can work hard as well”. The former employee told us about some of the tasks he was asked to do during his 10-hour, four day a week, shifts, which included working in an area of the warehouse set up in aisles like you’d find at a supermarket or a DIY shop: “You’re expected to scan every parcel and put it in the right location, you have to run down the aisle stick it in, for example J4, come back and be ready for the next one once every six to ten seconds.” “You start doing that and you’re moving really quickly and every time you scan a package the box lights up, it’s like one of those reaction time games, you’ve got to scan, bang, in and they expect you to work at that speed and intensity for around seven and a half hours straight.”

He says the intensity of the job was hard to keep up for such a long period of time and it was the constant moving and carrying which caused him to have back pain: “As the hours go on your back starts to fall to pieces, mainly because of the boxes they position on the floor, that bottom row shouldn’t be there because that’s the one that does the most damage because you’re having to bend over down to feet height stick in and stand back up, stick it in and stand back up all the way through the shift and that’s what really damages your lower back”. As part of his training he was shown how to lift and carry boxes properly but says it’s impossible to meet targets if you stick to the health and safety rules. He says he brought it up with the supervisors and they said they had problems with their back as well as a result of the job.

He added: “I almost kept quitting every day I was in there, going through that period in the morning, those first few hours and thinking ‘I can’t do this anymore it’s just breaking me, just mentally and physically, it’s not worth it’ I thought it was just me thinking that and I was weak but I spoke to others working there and they said they felt the same way. “I stuck it out for the four weeks and then, in the end, I thought ‘maybe those who quit on the first day are the bright ones?’ not the ones with the ego like me.

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To sign up just head to this page and select “Derbyshire Live news”[1] – or enter your email into the black box at the top of this story. “One guy in my group, who’d been working in warehouses for 15 years, on the first day he was saying ‘yeah it’s what its like working in warehouses’ then he quit after the first day.” The former worker said he did bring up his concerns with his supervisors but said that they said: “Oh we’ve all said that, we’ve all reported it to them and they just don’t do anything about it.

“I was basically just told it’s a lost cause and no matter what you say they won’t change any of it so I didn’t bother putting an official request in.” Derbyshire Live has contacted Amazon for a response and a spokesperson told us: “Working in a warehouse is not for everyone. But for those who don’t want to sit at a desk all day, it’s a hugely rewarding job.

“The fact is, if you want to work in a warehouse, you’ll want to work at Amazon. We pay at least GBP10 per hour, whether people are in full-time, part-time, temporary or seasonal roles. Employees receive a comprehensive benefits package which includes private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection and an employee discount – which combined are worth more than GBP700 annually – as well as a company pension plan.

“Anyone who says we don’t care about our employees’ physical and mental health is just plain wrong. It’s offensive to the people who work here. We support our employees in their work, providing them with safety training from day one on how they should handle packages to prevent injury; we offer them regular breaks, personalised coaching, and a comfortable pace.

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References

  1. ^ head to this page and select “Derbyshire Live news” (www.derbytelegraph.co.uk)
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