Earlier this month, Amazon warehouse workers went on strike globally to protest the conditions of Amazon warehouses and impossibly high quotas. Many people, in support of these protests and strikes, boycotted the e-commerce giant throughout the duration of the company’s annual sale. Despite these efforts, Amazon workers have yet to see significant changes as a result of the strikes, still facing difficult conditions, high quotas, and physical strain on the job.
Amazon Continues To Dominate E-Commerce
Since its creation in the earlier days of the internet, Amazon has grown to dominate the e-commerce market and regularly sets the industry standards. The company is largely responsible for e-commerce growing to the size it has in recent years, particularly when it comes to the fashion industry. As of August 2017, women’s apparel was the number one top-selling item on the internet. The growth of e-commerce extends to accessories as well; in 2012, 4.7 million pairs of plano sunglasses were sold online.
However, this overwhelming success has come at a significant cost. Workers have reported incredibly challenging conditions, and while Amazon has previously promised to increase pay for warehouse associates to a minimum of $15 per hour, the conditions in Amazon’s fulfillment centers and lack of benefits have pushed workers sometimes to their breaking points.
Strain As Workers Respond To Increasing Demands
Amazon has repeatedly set the standard for the e-commerce industry, particularly when it comes to efficiency and delivery time. However, these fast shipping speeds and consistency rely heavily on the effort of workers taking long shifts and avoiding breaks. Even with warehouse associates putting in excessive effort, often at their own expense, quotas and demands regularly increase throughout the company. Statistics show that a typical warehouse management systems can decrease errors by as much as 70%, but many of the methods used in Amazon warehouses push employees too far.
Additionally, while wages have been gradually increasing, it’s still largely not enough. Many workers have had to cut corners to make ends meet, with some even declaring bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years after it is arranged, meaning these people are ending up with a long-term mark against their credit score, despite working full-time jobs.
Results Of Strikes Remains Uncertain
In protest of these conditions, Amazon workers across the glove went on strike for the company’s Prime day, hoping to cause difficulty that will get their issues noticed on one of the biggest sales days of the year for Amazon. Workers in multiple locations in both the United States and Europe went on strike, asking consumers to boycott the company for the day in order to avoid crossing the virtual picket line. Despite everyone’s best efforts, so far the temporary strike has resulted in little permanent change for the company, with Amazon still seeming to push back against efforts at unionization for workers.
As more and more jobs shift from retail to the warehousing industry, it is likely that there will be increased pressure on workers, including raising quotas, low wages, and poor conditions. While the strike organized by Amazon workers on Prime day this year is a decent start, unless efforts increase and unions are able to form across the country, it’s likely the warehousing industry will remain a grim one for its workers. That being said, the strike and protests are still fairly recent; it is possible that Amazon may respond with changes on a corporate level that impact working conditions across the company.