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article imageDarker side of Black Friday as worker anxiety rises

By Tim Sandle     Nov 23, 2018 in Business
Black Friday may be the pinnacle of consumerism, with millions of people seeking sought after discounted goods, but for many workers this time of year highlight some of the downsides of precarious forms of employment.
Black Friday is the name given to the Friday following Thanksgiving and it represents a major day for retailers to shift goods, especially ahead of new models and clothing lines that will be coming into play the following year. The day is a key part of the U.S. shopping build-up to Christmas and the tradition is now appearing in other countries. To meet the demand, stores and ecommerce sites need to hire more workers, often on short-term contracts.
The nature of many of the jobs and the terms and conditions of employment can be less than ideal, The Guardian reports. The focal point is with Amazon, since it receives the greatest number of sales over the period.
Although Amazon hires additional workers, these workers are not, as the work volume increases, allowed to use personal time and vacation time use is discouraged. The proportion of workers hired has been dropping each year as Amazon increasingly relies upon automation.
The Guardian report recites tales of increasing work pressure and disgruntled employees, together with cases of low wages and a tale of one worker who is living in a car in the firm's parking lot despite working full-time. Cases of anxiety are similarly flagged. With wages, no additional pay incentive is provided for working for Amazon on Black Friday. These forms of work has increased with economic globalization, as production methods have altered.
In the U.K., CNBC reports that levels of dissatisfaction were so high that the trade union GMB organized a protest against Amazon on Black Friday. The union was opposing what it terms "inhuman" working conditions for Amazon warehouse workers.
Similar levels of industrial unrest against Amazon took place in Germany, Italy, and Spain. The main grievances were low pay, hazardous work environments, and unreasonable performance expectations. However, Amazon has told Gizmodo in a statement all of its sites are "safe places to work" and it states that its workers are fairly compensated.
More about Work, Employment, Black friday, Consumerism
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