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article imageAmazon working conditions may cause 'mental and physical illness'

By Lesley Lanir     Nov 26, 2013 in Business
Swansea - Just as the selling season begins to heat up, BBC Panorama send an undercover investigator into a UK Amazon warehouse and discover conditions that could cause "mental and physical illness." Amazon respond with, safety is its "number one priority."
A BBC Panorama undercover investigation that took place in a UK-based Amazon warehouse in Swansea, also known as a "fulfilment centre," discovered working conditions that stress expert, Professor Michael Marmot said could cause "mental and physical illness."
Professor Marmot viewed secret filming of Amazon workers' night shifts involving up to 11 miles of walking, where an undercover reporter, Adam Littler, 23, "was expected to collect orders every 33 seconds."
Littler is quoted as saying, "We are machines, we are robots, we plug our scanner in, we're holding it, but we might as well be plugging it into ourselves."
"We don't think for ourselves, maybe they don't trust us to think for ourselves as human beings, I don't know."
After finishing a ten-and-a-half-hour night shift, he said: "I managed to walk or hobble nearly 11 miles. I'm absolutely shattered. My feet are the thing that are bothering me the most to be honest."
Professor Marmot is quoted as saying that the conditions found at the warehouse are "all the bad stuff at once." He says that this type of job has characteristics that increase the risk of "mental illness and physical illness." The professor explains that Amazon's demands of efficiency are not balanced with those of the costs of a worker's health and well-being.
From Amazon's response to Panorama - November 25, 2013:
"We strongly refute the charge that Amazon exploits its employees in any way. The safety of our associates is our number one priority, and we adhere to all regulations and employment law."
Amazon also add that an independent expert has said that "a picking role is similar to jobs in many other industries and does not increase the risk of mental and physical illness," and that they have a "highly favourable safety rate compared to companies in the same industry."
Amazon provides a BBC Breakfast video clip - November 13, 2013, giving other workers' viewpoints differing to those provided by BBC Panorama.
More about Amazoncom, BBC Panorama, Working conditions, In Amazon Warehouse UK, Amazon
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