The ABC’s Margaret Burin has revealed the exploitation of warehouse workers at Amazon’s new fulfilment centre in Melbourne: “the workplace is built around a culture of fear where their performance is timed to the second; … high-pressure targets make them feel like they can’t go to the toilet and sometimes push them to cut safety corners; they can be sent home early without being paid for the rest of their shift when orders are completed; and everyone is employed as a casual and constantly anxious about whether they’ll get another shift.” The NUW says the problem is that bargaining doesn’t occur where the power is, thanks to outsourcing: “There’s no point bargaining with [labour hire company] Adecco, they have no power because they don’t set the rates of pay out there. We can’t bargain with Amazon because, technically, they don’t have any employees [within scope], so the workers are locked into low-quality low-pay work.” An Amazon worker who spoke anonymously to the ABC cuts to the nub of it: “Jeff Bezos has got the most money of any person on Earth. He’s not earning that money. That’s the money we’re making for him.” It’s time to change the rules so that workers can bargain with their real boss.
1 March 2019