Amazon logistics center workers have suffered more than 34,000 “serious injuries” last year, a rate twice as high as that of American warehouses not belonging to the Seattle group.
Amazon employs a third of employees working in warehouses in the United States, but almost half of the work accidents in this type of sites occurred at the e-commerce giant in 2021, according to a report published Tuesday April 12 by a union coalition. According to the Strategic organizing center (SOC), workers in Amazon’s logistics centers have suffered more than 34,000 “serious injuries” in their workplaces last year, twice the rate of non-Seattle owned US warehouses.
“After relaxing some of its disciplinary methods during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon reinstated its control systems and production pressure at the end of 2020, and the injury rate increased significantly in the aftermath”indicates the SOC. The coalition specifies that it is based on data provided by Amazon to OSHA, the federal agency responsible for the prevention of accidents at work. The group did not immediately respond to a request from AFP.
From 700 sites in 2020 to more than 900 in 2021
Amazon has been hiring with a vengeance during the pandemic. According to this report, in the United States, the company has grown from some 700 sites in 2020 to more than 900 in 2021, and from more than 200,000 employees in 2017 to more than 560,000 in 2021. In June 2021, Amazon had reviewed working conditions in this country, in particular by extending breaks for its workers responsible for preparing packages, shipping them and delivering them. The move came after the SOC’s previous damning report, and an attempted unionization at a company warehouse in Alabama. This had failed, but the campaign had exposed the pace of work deemed infernal by many employees.
“We must do better for our employees”wrote Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, in his annual letter to shareholders. “We are going to be the best employer and the safest place to work on Earth”he had promised, referring in particular to measures already taken or being deployed to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders linked to repetitive tasks. But “Contrary to this commitment (…) the injury rate in Amazon warehouses has increased by 20% between 2020 and 2021”specifies the SOC.
Employees of the site called “JFK8” in New York voted in majority at the end of March for the creation of a union, a first in an American warehouse of Amazon.