A reporter for the Times who spent seven days as an elf at one of Amazon's UK warehouses found workers weren't allowed to take sick leave, faced mandatory overtime, infinitesimal breaks and other sweatshop-y conditions.
The undercover Sunday Times reporter took a temp seasonal position as a packer for seven days, where they found some pretty shocking Martha Stewart-worthy working conditions:
•No sick leave, even with a doctor's note—you get a penalty point, and after six you're fired
•Mandatory 10.5-hour overnight shift at the end of every five day week
•Ridiculous quotas, like packing 140 Xbox 360s an hour—and we all know how much those things weigh
•"Made to walk up to 14 miles a shift to collect items for packing"
•Two breaks per eight-hour shift, only 15 and 20 minutes long each, with bathroom breaks requiring permission
Amazon, though they didn't quite deny the allegations in the original report, now says, "There were many inaccuracies in the U.K. article. Case in point: We don't allow FC (fulfillment center) associates to work more than 6 days a week in any location — they must have at least 1 day off." Oh gee, I'm sure that single day off is very comforting.
Whoever's telling the truth, if you pop open a fresh Xbox 360 on Christmas day, take a second to remember what a bitch it is to pack, and think about the worker who made your consumer-driven Christmas joy possible. [Times Online, Seattle Tech Report]