No more “time off task” for Amazon workers. As the coronavirus pandemic ramped up, CEO Jeff Bezos seemed to care about worker safety. Now…not so much.
In what appeared to be a rare moment of compassion for workers last July, Amazon dropped disciplinary actions against workers who were not able to meet productivity quotas. The company seemed to understand that people needed extra time, what with all the hand washing and sanitizing and trying not to die of the ‘rona. But now, just as health officials warn that cold weather will ramp up infections, Amazon is back to cracking the whip to keep everybody on task for the holiday rush.
Amazon’s system tracks the number of seconds each worker takes for each task, and every moment a worker spends not working. (Time spent social distancing while using the bathroom, for instance, or sterilizing a work station.) Too much “time off task” generates a warning, causing employees to be “coached” or even fired.
It seems that monitoring may have continued all along. Hibaq Mohamed, who works in an Amazon warehouse in Minnesota, was written up for “time off task” in July. She also claims this was in retaliation for protesting the company’s labor practices. Apparently, protesting with good reason.
NYCOSH's "Time Off Task" report found that, at Amazon's Staten Island distribution center:
– 80% of workers were pressured to work harder or faster
– 49% experienced psychological stress &
– 63% have had their sleep negatively impacted as a result of their employment pic.twitter.com/S259OYJH1M
— NYCOSH (@NYCOSH) October 16, 2019