Amazon Denies Allegations About Inadequate Bathroom Breaks
James Bloodworth said employees in Britain used a ‘toilet bottle’ system because they were reprimanded for arriving late from bathroom breaks.
Amazon workers in Britain are urinating in bottles to save time and avoid discipline by managers, according to an investigative journalist who went undercover as an employee.
James Bloodworth, who worked in the “fulfillment center” for six-months, detailed the mistreatment of warehouse employees in his book Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain.
Bloodworth told The Sun employees operated a “toilet bottle” system because they were allegedly slapped with “warning points” for arriving late from bathroom breaks.
“For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flights of stairs,” Bloodworth told the publication. “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.”
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Melanie Etches, a spokesperson for Amazon, denied the allegations.
“Amazon ensures all of its associates have easy access to toilet facilities which are just a short walk from where they are working,” Etches 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.”
In a survey released by Organise on Monday, employees who are only identified by their city said increased shipping targets have stressed some workers to the point of depression (PDF). Some employees even considered “suicide” because of the harsh working conditions, the survey reports.
“The breaks are too strict, by the time you walk to get a drink you don’t have time to use toilet let alone sit down. If you’re two minutes late you get a ‘break abuse’, at five break abuses you are fired,” said an employee of Peterborough, England.
Another employee added, “[Targets] have increased dramatically. I do not drink water because I do not have time to go to the toilet.”
Bloodworth said the warehouses are like “prisons” with airport-style security scanners where workers are patted down and are banned from bringing hoodies, cellphones, and sunglasses according to The Sun.
Last month the company was named by LinkedIn as the seventh most sought-after place to work at in Britain.