Why Are The Newspapers Picking On Amazon?

Posted: Dec 23 2013, 10:06am CST | by , in News


There’s a definite sense that the UK newspapers are picking on Amazon this Christmas. They’re being pilloried for hiring temporary staff rather than long term to work for the Christmas rush. There’s all these stories about how far people have to walk while working: 11 miles in one shift they say breathlessly! I’ve done more than that working as a waiter. Here’s an example of what I mean:

An Amazon worker hired for the Christmas period is suing the internet giant after 11-hour shifts in one of its warehouses left him with agonising back pain.

Rhys Owen, 21, from Bedford, earned £7 an hour at the sprawling Milton Keynes base, where employees walk several miles every day, lifting products from shelves.

The football fan was one of 15,000 temporary workers hired across Britain by the internet giant to deal with the Christmas rush, but claimed the shifts left him ‘middle-aged’ before his time.

He claimed his target was to pick 1,100 items a day, about 1.8 per minute.

It’s entirely correct that someone injured at work should receive compensation of course. And if it was just one of those things then he’ll get that compensation through the benefits system. If it was as a result of negligence by Amazon then they’ll have to pay damages.

But my point is that I do think that a lot of this shouting at Amazon is more than just a little bit misplaced. For there’s another organisation in the UK that hires temporary staff for the Christmas rush: indeed they’ve been doing so for decades. That’s the Royal Mail. They hire rather more people on these temp jobs than Amazon does:

Royal Mail are recruiting around 21,000 Xmas casuals to help sort and deliver the Christmas mail.

And if you’re actually doing a mail round I can imagine that you might well walk 11 miles in the course of a day. While carrying bag as well, rather than pushing a trolley as in an Amazon warehouse. And the last time I looked Amazon were paying £7.00 an hour and the Royal Mail £6.45.

So if it is an outrage that people are being hired for temp jobs at Amazon on £7.00 an hour then why isn’t it a greater outrage that a larger number of people are being paid a smaller amount of money in temp jobs for the Royal Mail? And I will absolutely guarantee that one of more of those Mail workers sustains an injury of some kind over the period.

My assumption is that there’s some sort of meme going around, that Amazon are bad employers and of course the Royal Mail is one of the glories of our system. Other than that I can’t think of a single reason for the way the news is being presented.

Source: Forbes

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