Amazon has been accused of “dehumanising” its staff in the Christmas rush to get out gift deliveries to millions of worldwide customers. For the Consumer, it’s just a click of a button, but here’s a look behind the pixels at what really goes on.

Illegal working practices exposed

The workers at Amazon are paid an hourly rate of £7.35, which is barely more than the legal minimum wage. The work forces them to walk up to 14 miles a day around the tech giant’s warehouse and leaves their feet blistered at the end of each shift. They are given just seven seconds to find each item in the warehouse, a ridiculous target given how many items there are to wade through in the warehouse, and those who cannot keep up (which must be everybody, because seven seconds is insane) face disciplinary action.

A little bleeping device which the Amazon staff have coined “the gun” tells each worker which item to grab, and the constant, incessant bleeping drives them mad in the stale warehouse environment for 12 hours a day.

Amazon conduct airport-like security checks of their staff on the door, and film their every move with CCTV cameras and track their every move with a handheld scanning device. They don’t trust their staff, who are loyal enough not to report this gross work environment (a Daily Mail reporter went undercover on Black Friday, which on Amazon is like a two-week period, to expose it), and time their bathroom breaks and give them disciplinary action if they deem the breaks too long. What if someone has a problem with their prostate?

What if someone is pregnant? These are unfair conditions to work in.

Amazon have released a statement in response to these claims

Amazon has come forth to defend its workplace environment, calling it “safe and positive.” They say their “number one priority” is “the safety and wellbeing” of their employees. They say they “offer great jobs” along with “opportunities for growth.” The statement also mentioned there is “a clear exceptions process” for employees to refuse extra hours that are sprung upon them.

Amazon also said that they “always strive to give good notice to people of any changes.”

However, their workers have since spoken out to the contrary. One said that working for Amazon consists of “being bossed around by a scanner and having no thoughts beyond the next shelf number,” while another compared working for them to being “a zombie,” and said that you “leave your brains behind when you start working here.” These claims aren’t quite in line with Amazon’s defence.

According to Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC (not the cracker company), “These working practices have no place in modern Britain.” O’Grady says that the Amazon staff are not being “treated like human beings,” but rather like “machines,” and that Amazon’s “Big Brother-style management creates a culture of fear that robs people of their dignity.” O’Grady says that the basic rights of all workers are “decent pay, conditions and a voice at work,” and that they do not deserve “surveillance and the threat of a disciplinary if they need to go to the toilet.”

Amazon have come under fire in the past

Claims of this nature have been made against Amazon in the past, in addition to the continuing controversy surrounding the cooking of the books that goes on at Amazon as yet exploit their international affairs to reduce the amount of tax they pay in the UK.

These are Amazon’s busiest workers, and they are barely paid more than minimum wage by the most valuable retailer in the world, worth £198 billion. They have been forced to work “compulsory” overtime and extra shifts, being given very short notice of any changes and having no say in the matter. Under these conditions, how can one be expected to live their life?