Amazon is one of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley. Its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is one of the most successful businessmen of all time, and is currently the richest person in the world with a net worth of more than $110 billion. So it’s no surprise why many people want to work for the online retail giant. However, a new report reveals that things may not be so pretty behind the scenes.
Based on an online report written by an undercover author, working at Amazon comes with a lot of personal restrictions. More specifically, Amazon workers are said to be so swamped that they are unable to even take normal bathroom breaks, and are instead forced to relieve themselves in so-called pee bottles in order to avoid being reprimanded. This shocking bit of news comes from author James Bloodworth, who went undercover at the Amazon warehouse located in Staffordshire, U.K., while writing a book on low wages in Britain.
According to Bloodworth, the fulfillment workers at the warehouse had a working “toilet bottle” system in place, which had to be implemented due to the fact that bathrooms were not really a priority for their main operations. “For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flight of stairs,” he said in a statement to TheSun.co.uk. “People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being disciplined over ‘idle time’ and losing their jobs because they needed the loo.” (Related: Jeff Bezos wants to be your medication DEALER: Amazon goes all-in with Big Pharma to take over the drug retail industry.)
It may sound like a pretty ridiculous situation all around, but it’s something that makes sense as a sort of compromise – albeit a disgusting one – due to the setup that they have as far as worker bathrooms are concerned. And the problem is just made worse by the fact that Amazon actively monitors the productivity of its workers, specifically in terms of how fast they can pick and package items from its storage shelves. It is said that the company even enforces timed breaks and target for its workers. And for the ones that fail to follow the specified metrics, punishment awaits.
A separate survey conducted on Amazon workers recently showed that almost three-quarters of all U.K. staff members in fulfillment centers carried a fear of using the toilet due to concerns about taking up too much time. One report on the survey states that there were 241 Amazon warehouse employees in England that can attest to this fact. One survey respondent was even quoted as saying that their targets were “increased dramatically” and that taking personal breaks to go to the bathroom or even just drink water could end up getting them into trouble.
“I do not drink water,” the anonymous respondent said, “because I do not have time to go to the toilet.”
For its part, Amazon has denied all of the allegations. Instead, it boasts about its strengths in the market, and names a few reasons why workers flock to it in the first place. In a statement, the company said that they provide a safe and positive workplace for thousands of individuals in the U.K., and that it offers competitive pay and benefits from the beginning of a worker’s contract with them.
“We have not been provided with confirmation that the people who completed the survey worked at Amazon,” the company continued, “and we don’t recognize the allegations as an accurate portrayal of activities in our buildings.”
It isn’t the first time that Amazon has been cited for violating certain individual rights, and it likely won’t be the last. It will be interesting to see how workers view the company going forward. One can only hope that things take a turn for the better.
Read more about the latest news on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in JeffBezosWatch.com.