Question 1: What is it like to work for Amazon?
Amazonian 1: Well it’s through the labour hire company Adecco. Which is like any other labour hire company. Crappy shifts, high expectations, no idea of when you will be working, casualised slavery. It makes me angry. You go for a job interview through Adecco and they send you to an organisation. You then work hard to meet all their KPIs [Key-performance-Indicators]. Adecco makes money off us from amazon and Adecco are the ones paying us and rostering us. Around the three-month mark I think the company [Amazon] has to pay out to keep you onboard as their worker. But usually what happens is a “security or safety issue” and you get fired or they blame your zerformance instead of admitting that Amazon doesn’t want to pay out to keep you. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how fast your pick rate, how you don’t eat or drink to keep up with it. They don’t want to pay to keep you. So, you get sent to the next labour hire job and so on until a company is willing to pay for you. Its just the state of what’s happening in the warehousing industry in Australia. It’s really bad there’s no job security or even guarantee of
shifts from one day to the next. I just keep hoping that the other jobs I apply for on seek [Job search website] will come through and I can get away from labour hire companies.
Amazonian 2: Ahh the fulfilment centre… Uhh it’s okay. The whole security in-and-out thing is really annoying just takes a lot of time. So, I don’t really bother with lunch breaks or anything cause by the time you get through security you’ve wasted most of the break time. Same with starting in the morning you must arrive extra early to go through it all and make sure you’re not late on the warehouse floor. Every morning or start time we do like exercises and chants which is kind of weird. I know they’re trying to hype us up or something, I think its kind of dumb. Anyway, you get your scanner and your trolley and just go as fast as you can picking the items. The scanner tells you where to go and what to do. Although sometimes it makes mistakes and sends you to the wrong place for an item. One time I had to pick an item on one side of the warehouse and then another on the opposite side and it didn’t calculate the time right. So, I ran todo it. I hate the fast pace of it like the pick rates per hour are crazy. You must be really fit and healthy to do this job. Then you’re tired and go home and wait for a text message to confirm the next shift. One time I was sick with a cold and was trying to do it, but my pick rate dropped, and Adecco called me to ask what was wrong and then the Amazon supervisor pulled me aside too. I didn’t get as many shifts after that until I could get my pick rate up again. I don’t mind the work, I like being busy. I just think maybe their expectations are a little high. All the older casuals don’t last longer than one shift because they just can’t move fast enough.
Amazonian 3: It’s fast and crazy just like all the people that work there [laughs]. I have a pretty good supervisor who is nice enough. She gives us candy to keep our energy up but don’t tell management we aren’t supposed to eat during our shift. She also got us these water bottles that clip to your belt so you can work and drink. She will fill them up to save us time if we need it too which is so great. Some of the other area supervisors don’t do that. I’ve heard some of them are mean and don’t care about their workers. [Name removed] is great cause she will always stand up for us. Like when the scanners get it wrong, they calculate the timing wrong or the item isn’t in the location it says it is – she stands up for us to management and blames the technology. Other supervisors don’t do that. Cause the technology cannot be wrong “because algorithm” [makes gesture]. I think without her this job would be a lot harder. Our team is pretty good too. All relaxed and easy-going people. We get in, get candy and get the job done [laughs]
Amazonian 4: I just immigrated to Australia and I thought amazon would be good reference for better work. I did not think it would be this hard. Fast pace and lots of items to find, not much time. My feet hurt so much at the end of the shift. I’m so tired. I don’t want to work here for much longer.
Amazonian 5: Have you seen the southpark episode? No? Funny thing is you can watch it on Amazon Prime or watch other people reacting to it [laughs hysterically- link found https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJqJ755MU84]. Look its not that bad, yes, the KPIs [key performance indicators] of high pick rates are up there but I see it as them challenging you to do the best you can the entire time. I’ve done several of the jobs at the warehouse and it is starting
to settle in now. Like the managers and supervisors are permanent so its starting to get more consistent. Next are the workers. Once the workers have more permanency and are employed by Amazon then it will be better. I work on the other side of the warehouse now driving a forklift and its easy going. I load pallets onto trucks. That is my day so I can’t really complain about much. I just have to be careful not to run anyone over. Thing is this all points to a bigger issue than what is just happening at the fulfilment centre. It’s the issue of the casualisation of the workforce of Australia, the issue of workers rights, the problems with low pay and long hours. How companies promise delivery within a short time frame and how they pressure the whole workforce to achieve that. If people didn’t shop on the internet and have these expectations maybe things would be different. Maybe the company should just say shipping within one week instead of a day or three days. It has a lot of greater implications when you think about it.
Amazonian 6: I work on boxing the items and getting them ready for transport. You have to box all the picked items into an order. Then load the boxes onto a pallet, wrap the pallet and then the forklift drivers take it to the trucks. My job is just the boxing part. Sometimes we take turns loading up the pallets to help everyone rest their backs a little bit. It can be repetitive, and you must be really careful bending and lifting the items. Sometimes they weigh up to 30kg. So, we do it so that one person is lifting and filling the pallet so the others can pack. We’re not supposed
to do that, but our supervisor is okay with it because she understands that it is easier for us this way. So instead of bending and lifting the whole shift you just take turns every couple of hours. Means your back hurts less at the end of the day. Otherwise it is easy. I wish the packing station had some more supplies though, seems like we are always running out of tape [laughs]