Amazon Warehouse Employee Bathroom Breaks Controversy

Amazon Warehouse Employee Bathroom Breaks Controversy

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Updated May 16, 2018 at 04:39AM EDT by Y F.

Added Apr 17, 2018 at 03:36PM EDT by Matt.

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Overview

Amazon Warehouse Employee Bathroom Breaks Controversy refers to reports that Amazon.com warehouse employees in the United Kingdom were forced to urinate in bottles or forgo their bathroom breaks. The reports were met with outrage online.

Background

On April 15th, 2018, the Sun[1] newspaper reported that on an undercover investigation by James Bloodworth for his book Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain. In the report, Bloodworth alleged that employees at warehouse in Staffordshire, U.K. would urinate in bottles or forgo their bathroom breaks because they feared disciplinary action against them.

"People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being ­disciplined over ‘idle time’ and ­losing their jobs just because they needed the loo," said Bloodworth.

Developments

Online Reaction

The news was widely discussed on Reddit, reaching the front page of the /r/technology[3] and the /r/worldnews[4] subreddits. On April 16th, Redditor OhMyGloob posted an article about the report in the /r/technology subreddit, whrere it recieved more than 45,000 points (87% upvotes) and 3,700 comments in 24 hours. That day, Redditor yourSAS posted about it in the /r/worldnews subreddit and received more than 88,000 points (88% upvoted) and 7,100 comments in 24 hours.

Additionally, posts in the /r/The_Donald, [5] /r/wallstreeetbets[6] and /r/socialism[7] subreddits all received more than 1,000 points.

That day, Redditor[8] Kozymodo posted a picture in the /r/BikiniBottomTwitter subreddit of the cartoon character Mr. Krabs grabbing SpongeBob SquarePants by the head as SpongeBob leaves work. The post was titled "Amazon employee attempts to go to the bathroom. Circa 2018." Within 24 hours, the post (shown below, left) received more than 28,000 points (95% upvoted) and 200 comments.

Similarly, Redditor[9] Tibs posted a picture of bottles filled with a golden liquid in the /r/funny subreddit in the thread "Employee bathroom at Amazon." The post (shown below, right) received more than 4,200 points (92% upvoted) amd 140 comments.

The following day, Redditor[12] Imjustwonderingyo asked about the controversy in the /r/OutOfTheLoop subreddit, where it received more than 115 points (93% upvoted).


Amazon employee attempts to go to the bathroom. Circa 2018 23 hours ago by Kozymodo 220 comments share save hide give gold report crosspost oke © Allart,Crain


The controversy was also discussed on Twitter, where people mostly expressed outrage toward Amazon for their treatment of workers.

On April 16th, Twitter[10] user @tapbot_paul posted an screen capture of one of the headlines and added the cpation "Note to self: Don’t order bottles from Amazon." The post (shown below, left) received more than 30 retweets and 80 likes in 24 hours.

Twitter[11] user @whitmire2018 tweeted, "Stories like this serve as a reminder as to why #Unions remain relevant as they are the only way that workers can fight for dignity and fair treatment in the workplace. #RightToWork laws seek to tear down #Unions and thus must be stopped at every level." The post (shown below, center) received more than 10 retweets and 10 likes in 24 hours. Additionally, Twitter[13] user @TheJovenshire tweeted, "Facebook is selling your info. Google is listening to our conversations. Amazon isn't letting their employees take pee break. Guys, just don't do fucked up things. It's not hard. Don't do shady shit. Easy as that." The post (shown below, right) received more than 130 retweets and 1,200 likes in 24 hours.


Note to self: Don't order bottles from Amazon. Amazon warehouse workers pee into bottles because they are scared of being punished for taking a comfort break Stories like this serve as a reminder as to why #Unions remain relevant as they are the only way that workers can fight for dignity and fair treatment in the workplace #RightToWork laws seek to tear down # Unions and thus must be stopped at every level BER3 Day ONE" Team Amazon warehouse workers pee into bottles because they are scared of bein... Taking a long break can lead to warning points at an Amazon warehouse businessinsider.com Facebook is selling your info Google is listening to our conversations. Amazon isn't letting their employees take pee break. Guys, just dont do f----- up things. It's not hard. Dont do shady s---. Easy as that.

Amazon's Response

In a statement to The Verge,[2] a spokesperson for Amazon said:

"Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace for thousands of people across the UK with competitive pay and benefits from day one. We have not been provided with confirmation that the people who completed the survey worked at Amazon and we don’t recognize these allegations as an accurate portrayal of activities in our buildings.

"We have a focus on ensuring we provide a great environment for all our employees and last month Amazon was named by LinkedIn as the [seventh] most sought after place to work in the UK and ranked first place in the US. Amazon also offers public tours of its fulfillment centres so customers can see first-hand what happens after they click ‘buy’ on Amazon."

Media Coverage

Several media outlets covered the story, including The New York Post,[14] Complex,[15] Newsweek,[16] Business Insider,[17] Gizmodo[18] and more.

Search Interest

External References

[1] The Sun – Amazon warehouse workers skip bathroom breaks to keep their jobs, says report

[2] The Verge – Amazon warehouse workers skip bathroom breaks to keep their jobs, says report

[3] Reddit – Amazon warehouse workers pee into bottles because they are scared of being punished for taking a comfort break

[4] Reddit – Rushed Amazon warehouse staff reportedly pee into bottles as they're afraid of 'time-wasting' because the toilets are far away and they fear getting into trouble for taking long breaks

[5] Reddit – Amazon warehouse workers pee into bottles because they are scared of being punished for taking a comfort break. Oh but I’m sure they offered the Postal Service a totally fair deal.

[6] Reddit – Amazon so efficient that warehouse workers pee in bottles – long AMZN

[7] Reddit – Rushed Amazon warehouse staff reportedly pee into bottles as they're afraid of 'time-wasting' because the toilets are far away and they fear getting into trouble for taking long breaks

[8] Reddit – Amazon employee attempts to go to the bathroom. Circa 2018.

[9] Reddit – Employee bathroom at Amazon

[10] Twitter – @tapbot_paul's Tweet

[11] Twitter – @whitmire2018's Tweet

[12] Reddit – What is the deal with the Amazon bathroom memes floating around?

[13] Twitter – @TheJovenshire's Tweet

[14] New York Post – Amazon workers pee into bottles to save time: investigator

[15] Complex – Amazon Denies Employees Have to Pee in Bottles Over Pressure to Meet Quota

[16] Newsweek – AMAZON DENIES FORCING EMPLOYEES TO URINATE IN BOTTLES AS BATHROOM BREAK TIME-SAVER

[17] Business Insider – Undercover author finds Amazon warehouse workers in UK 'peed in bottles' over fears of being punished for taking a break

[18] Gizmodo – Report: Amazon's British Warehouse Workers 'Peed in Bottles' to Avoid Punishment for Lost Time [Updated]

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