Conditions are so dire, a recent poll of 100 Amazon warehouse workers from labor advocacy group Organise showed that more than half suffer from depression, and eight percent had contemplated suicide."
While I acknowledge it's not a totally fair comparison, I find it interesting that you could replace "55" with "90+" and "Amazon blue collar workers" with "Lower level financiers and consultants on Wall Street" and get probably the same statistics. Maybe even true for some spaces in tech/entrepreneurship.
Is this an Amazon problem, or a modern world problem?
I believe the difference is, the wall street guys are in it voluntarily (they could probably take up a lower paying white collar job and still survive), and have a massive reward to look forward to after spending a few years there. While the warehouse workers are picking between unemployment\hunger and working in Amazon warehouses.
these Amazon warehouse jobs don't lead to being a millionaire. they don't even lead to a decent career. i doubt you could even get promoted to Amazon low-level management out of one of these jobs. it is pure exploitation.
Doctors, financiers, etc prove that people are willing to go through life phases that tear them down mentally and physically (could easily argue that for them it can be worse than "peeing in a bottle"), but you're right, they'll all justify it saying "it won't be like this 5 years from now".
I'm curious as to how Amazon would respond to a question like, "what opportunities for advancement do your lower level workers have?"
Where they pay for your tuition.
If, as a company, you pay someone by the hour to complete a task, it's in your best interests to employ only people that do the most work per hour, and then to treat them in a way which gets more work done (to an acceptable quality) per hour.
If instead workers were paid for getting the work done to an acceptable quality, then the workers could decide for themselves what quality of life vs income they wanted.
Salaried work with performance based bonuses are somewhere in between, and perhaps strike a good balance.
Two high pressure jobs. One voluntary, one not so much.
Hyperbole much? Note that the article is talking about the UK, a country with very extensive (and expensive) social benefits system - so if these workers didn't want to work, they could simply choose not to, and still survive just fine. That's in no way comparable to slavery.
So what happens now ? Assuming everyone boycotted Amazon and the unlikely event occurred and it shut down. What next? Tens of thousands of those works go home to what? Does the editor then start another campaign to employ all the people laid off? Think they’d be working there if they had a lot more options?
How about trying to fix the problem or at least fix as much as humanly possible? How about putting pressure on your reps to draw up some regulations? How about the government? Isn’t that what they’re there for? Do we have to resort to Social justice for everything now ? Because it obviously doesn’t work with these corporations. See Equifax, See Facebook ?
I think the idea is to convince the company directly rather than relying on politicians.
> Because it obviously doesn’t work with these corporations.
There are some pretty glaring examples where it has worked. Nike sweatshops probably being the most visible. Boycotts and lawsuits hit the bottom line, which is what they ultimately care about.
Relying on politicians is hard in the short term, but regulatory policy fixes the problem more or less permanently in an accountable, democratic, and globally applicable (in a national context) way. If we as a society believe what Amazon is doing is fundamentally wrong, why not prohibit legally rather than rely on an ad-hoc solution that will probably be circumvented once attention fades away?
Also, user comments in the Reddit thread about the "comfort break" incident indicate that AWS is Amazon's primary source of revenue these days. This is backed up by much of Amazon's own PR reporting. For a boycott to have any meaningful impact against Amazon, it would have to include a hit against that revenue.
Call it pessimism, but it's my opinion that few if any companies will incur the costs to move their own business out of Amazon simply to penalize them for poor working conditions in another section of the company.
I disagree, for two reasons:
1. By that logic, Amazon would shut down or sell off their consumer sales business because it's not worth bothering with.
2. Even if (hypothetically) the shareholders and top-level managers of Amazon didn't care about consumer sales, there is a lower-level (but still fairly high) manager whose sole responsibility is consumer sales. If a boycott substantially hurts those sales, their personal career prospects are hurt, so you can bet they would care enough to change how their part of the business operates.
Of course, this is academic because I agree with this:
> So long as we can save a few pennies and a few minutes by utilizing Amazon, there will be no boycott of any meaningful size.
Source on that please? I'm highly dubious.
NA Retail Revenue: $25,446M
NA Retail Profit: $ 112M
AWS Revenue: $ 4,584M
AWS Profit: $ 1,171M
Within a few months or years amazons shopping marketplace could become eclipsed by another. Consumers can switch brands quite quickly if they see a better service elsewhere.
AWS on the other hand is very hard to migrate from. Can you imagine the investment necessary to move a large company off AWS infrastructure, when you have legacy and unsupported services that nobody knows how they work, depends on intricacies of amazons managed services, and have no way of doing zero downtime data migration?
Basically, Amazon can gradually increase the price of existing AWS services, while lowering the price of all new services to attract new customers. (Think "From 2019 we will be releasing S4, the new cheaper data storage system!").
How would that work with Amazon? Their product isn't only the stuff you buy. It's the ease of the process and the quickness of delivery. What can you substitute for that?
I'm no moral crusader, but I very rarely use Amazon. In the last 12 months I've ordered 2 things, a jeweler kit and a charger. If I were trying to affect a boycott I could have last year easily!
I'm intrigued by the idea of someone who has tethered their life to an online shopping experience. Maybe THAT is who buy Amazon Echos.
It's interesting to think about... the extreme would be to stop visiting websites hosted on AWS.
Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death!
You can choose to boycott these companies and potentially suffer certain inconveniences that, ultimately, are not much of a big deal.
Their process used to be uniquely easy and fast, but that's no longer the case. Buying from nearly any large online retailer is just as easy and fast these days.
Believe it or not, my life did not collapse when I stopped buying from Amazon.
How widespread is the problem in reality? I have no idea. But given that I can simply shop elsewhere, get a similar experience, and feel more certain that I'm not receiving a counterfeit, I'll do just that.
I'm a consumer, not an analyst. If I think that I might receive a counterfeit from Amazon I'll just shop elsewhere, I have bigger things to worry about.
In fact, I do avoid buying from them as I don't like the way they treat their employees.
I also consider them a bit dirty for the same reason as you as I know employees and they are treated like garbage. Maybe not in head office, but certainly in distribution.
Yet nearly everyone I meet assures me amazon is usually cheapest.
I feel like the general population never checks Ebay or Aliexpress.
I find Amazon to be very bad on ease of the process/quickness of delivery/price: Their dark patterns to sell prime subscription. Their hiding the delivery cost. Their asking and storing credit card before telling you the final price. Their 8 (yes eight) screens buying process!
Any other web-merchant is better than Amazon if you are not already an Amazon client.
This isn't a pithy response, I'm genuinely curious how this kind of thing could be worked around. Independent third party mediator that can contact both parties to figure out what happened (perhaps incentivized with a % of the smart contract's value?)
Then, two transactions are created (but not yet signed); 1 that pays the seller their share and returns the remaining deposit to the buyer, and one that is the other way around (refund).
When the item is shipped / received, and everything is good, both parties sign the transaction to unlock the funds. If either side attempts to scam the other, they are out 1.5x the price of the object. It becomes both party's interest to ensure that conflicts can be resolved so the deposits can be unlocked.
In other words, it is escrow without the 3rd party.
There is more information here:
Yes, I certainly see that as an option.
And perhaps a system like this needs more types of "special actors", e.g. for supporting alternative payment methods.
Great idea in theory, not sure how it's working out in practice. I think Jet had trouble establishing a brand - it was acquired in September 2016 by Wal-Mart.
Amazon uses a lot of third-party sellers, so in a way Amazon is more like EBay.
A lot of the new technology that could potentially become the backbone of the proverbial New Internet is still in its infancy. I will be probably evolve quicker than the first few waves but at the moment it still feels like nerdy tools built by nerds for other nerds.
Or similarly for placing a review about a shop.
It turns out people didn't trust a large number of separate sellers without a central organisation to set rules, offer refunds and make a consistent shopping experience.
No, that's not evidence of malfunction. If the outcome is predictable, there is no reason to have a trial, and you'd expect a settlement without trial, which is exactly what happens in most cases, civil or criminal.
The only reason for the cost and expense of a trial is an unpredictable outcome.
- the legal system is lacking a hard rule requiring the penalty for a violation of a law by a business to exceed the profits the business made due to the violation by a significant margin. If a car maker failing to recall faulty cars was guaranteed to be fined no less than 10x the cost of the recall if caught the decision making process would be quite different.
It's like software, in that incremental changes are safer and ground-up rewrites are usually disastrous failures engineered by people who failed to fully understand the complexity of the application domain.
OTOH, I'm not sure a “refactor” is a meaningful concept for the legal system. Oh, sure, you can hold requirements and expected outcomes the same and change the details, structure, and organization of legal code. “Refactors” of that kind happen all the time. They aren't as significant in impact as with software, because the code isn't imperative and doesn't run on dumb machines, so refactors are mostly about readability, and don't (e.g.) improve runtime resource usage significantly.
We haven't seen one of those in the western world for a while though.
Author, if you're reading this, you ought to live by your words and reduce at least your Amazon supporting activities in the very article you are complaining about their doninance in. Remove that Reddit share icon and everything eles that sends data to Amazon, or we'll all assume you don't care about this, you're just in it for the money and the fame and the clicks. With that Reddit share button, you make it clear you want us to use Amazon a lot to spread your content far and wide.
Can't have it both ways.
I take your point, but on the other hand it is probably quite difficult to be aware of all sites that use AWS, especially if they sit behind a CDN. I didn't know Reddit use AWS.
Boycotting usually doesn't have the same effect as a 2-days strike.
This year, the Supreme Court may create a revolution in the ability of US states to tax consumer purchases from online retailers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dakota_v._Wayfair,_Inc.#...). This could erode Amazon's online retail profitability enough to seriously slow its ever-increasing sales volume and give the competition enough breathing room to survive and even grow a bit.
And Trump keeps complaining about the prices the USPS receives to deliver Amazon. Whether or not there's any merit in Trump's complaint, as a convenient piece of political theater, this cause could easily be picked up by the next president and renegotiated. It would be a crowd pleaser for someone like Elizabeth Warren.
Perhaps the playing field will be tilted just enough to slow the whole Amazon machine.
Somehow, a lot of those little businesses still do not charge sales tax. A significant fraction of Amazon's sales are those little retailers.
There's a space for a service that manages that burden for you. The service might already exist and is probably called 'Amazon Fulfillment'.
A lot of them are revealed by googling 'sales and use tax software'
I think that sort of software solution has been around for about 20 years.
We only had to go through this mess two decades ago because we had nexus sites at all our warehouses. Before Mayfair, the mom-and-pop internet seller could get by with only taxing their local customers.
The Mayfair result is going to force difficult and expensive sales tax compliance onto the backs of small business. Your small business owner doesn't want to go shopping for 'sales and use tax software'. They want the shopping cart to do that work for them.
Unless the states actually get together to come up with a simplified and unified system, companies like Amazon who can abstract all that away are are going to be a necessity. I think a nation-wide internet sales tax is better than forcing additional burden onto small business or driving them right into the arms of places like Amazon.
Whoa, what? This sounds interesting--do you have a link you could share?
See also: