Staff at an Amazon fulfillment center were reportedly forced to pee in bottles to keep their jobs, reveals an undercover author who infiltrated an Amazon warehouse in Staffordshire, UK.
Amazon reportedly threatened to penalize employees who took extended bathroom breaks, so those who didn't have any bathrooms close enough felt forced to find another solution -- urinate in a bottle.
Undercover Author Reveals Amazon Employee Exploitation
Author James Bloodworth wanted to write a book about the low wages in the UK, and he went undercover at an Amazon fulfilment center to gather more information. The author told UK publication The Sun that staff there had to move around the warehouses to collect the necessary items for delivery, and since bathrooms were too far away to take a quick trip, they would have a "toilet bottle" to relieve themselves without getting penalized for taking long breaks.
"For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flights of stairs," he told the publication. "People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being disciplined over 'idle time' and losing their jobs just because they needed the loo."
The reveal sparked a wave of controversy, and Shona Ghosh from Business Insider UK went into more detail about Amazon's purported employee exploitation practices, mentioning several other cases.
For instance, the report claims that some workers have been penalized for being sick -- a pregnant employee got "warning points" for getting sick on the job, while another employee got a warning although they had a note from their doctor.
Amazon Targets And Bathroom Breaks
Amazon is notorious for closely monitoring the timing of its warehouse workers, tracking how long it takes them to pick up products from shelves and package them for delivery. The company has high targets and timed breaks, and those who fail to meet its strict expectations receive warning points.
BI also pointed to a recent survey that revealed that nearly three quarters of employees at Amazon warehouses were afraid to go to the bathroom because Amazon timed their breaks so strictly.
One of the people surveyed even said they avoid drinking water so they wouldn't have to go to the bathroom. The same person said that Amazon had dramatically increased targets.
Organize, a platform for worker rights, conducted the survey and it has now delivered a petition to Amazon's London headquarters, demanding that the company lower its targets by 15 percent.
Amazon Denies The Allegations
Amazon, for its part, refutes such claims and says that it offers competitive pay and benefits, as well as a positive and safe work environment. A company spokesperson tells The Sun that all of its associates (read: employees) have toilet facilities nearby, "just a short walk" away. Furthermore, the spokesperson highlights that last month LinkedIn named Amazon the 7th most desired place to work in the UK, and the first in the United States.