New Delhi: E-commerce giant Amazon Thursday rejected accusations that its workers were forced to urinate in plastic bottles than take toilet breaks during their shifts.
Amazon made the clarification in response to US House Representative Mark Pocan’s tweet accusing the company of paying their workers just $15 per hour and forcing them to urinate in water bottles.
“Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a “progressive workplace” when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,” Pocan, a Democrat, tweeted.
Amazon’s official news handle replied: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”
After arguing that it provides “great” wages and healthcare to millions of its employees worldwide, the company told the lawmaker, “We hope you can enact policies that get other employers to offer what we already do.”
2/2 We hope you can enact policies that get other employers to offer what we already do.
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) March 25, 2021
Pocan’s tweet was in response to a tweet by Dave Clark, CEO of worldwide consumer, Amazon, who had welcomed Senator Bernie Sanders’ plans to meet Amazon workers in Alabama. The workers were attempting to form a union. Clark defended his company, saying they provided a “progressive workplace”.
1/3 I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace. I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace https://t.co/Fq8D6vyuh9
— Dave Clark (@davehclark) March 24, 2021
Amazon’s response criticised
However, social media users criticised Amazon’s response to the accusations.
Goldman School of Public Policy student Charlotte Hill said, “What brand thinks it’s a smart idea to publicly communicate in such a condescending manner, especially when there’s ample documentation of how little protection you offer your fulfillment center workers?”
This is so wild. What brand thinks it’s a smart idea to publicly communicate in such a condescending manner, especially when there’s ample documentation of how little protection you offer your fulfillment center workers? Not doing yourself any favors here…
— Charlotte Hill (@hill_charlotte) March 25, 2021
“They seem to have one million incredible employees who are a bunch of liars you shouldn’t believe. (sic),” another user tweeted.
Others humorously suggested Amazon’s social media team probably “wishes THEY had a union right now”.
I wonder if whoever wrote that tweet wishes THEY had a union right now.
— Ian McLean (@MrMcWalrus) March 25, 2021
Amazon warehouses ‘prison-like’
The multinational tech giant has come under scrutiny in recent years after reports emerged of gruelling working conditions, long hours and a lack of job security.
The controversy over bathroom breaks first emerged in 2018 when British journalist James Bloodworth went undercover as an Amazon worker for his book ‘Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain’.
He reported that Amazon warehouse workers were forced to urinate in bottles or forego their bathroom breaks in order to meet high fulfilment demands.
Other reports have indicated that since warehouses are rarely temperature controlled, employees have to work in sweltering conditions in the summer and in cold temperatures in the winter.
Workers have also claimed they are sometimes forced to stand in line after work for security screenings to make sure no one is stealing products and past employees have also compared the warehouses to prison facilities.