Amazon Australia’s culture of fear
AMAZON Australia announced a hiring blitz the same day an ABC investigation said the e-commerce giant applied "abusive supervision" to its staff.
The online retailer will add 500 permanent jobs in the next 12 months just over a year after launching its local operation.
Amazon Australia now employs more than 1500 people through its fulfilment centres in Sydney and Melbourne as well as web services positions.
"We are committed to being a great employer in Australia," director of local operations Robert Bruce said.
"And, as we grow our local operations, we will be transitioning the majority of the associates to full-time permanent employees with competitive pay and benefits, as we have done in other places where we operate around the world.
"We know the important role that associates play at the heart of Amazon's fulfilment success, and we are excited to bring these new job opportunities to the operations team in Australia as our network grows due to customer demand."
The ABC investigation centred on eight current and former employees at Amazon's first Australian warehouse at Dandenong South, in Melbourne's outer suburbs, who said the retailer's obsession with quality and pace made them feel "dehumanised".
"They would drill ideology into you every day. They'd try and brainwash you into becoming the star player of Amazon," one employer said.
They say the e-commerce company applies strict targets for pace and keeping up with its promise of next-day delivery, with threats of job loss frequent.
"Your job is carved up to tiny tasks which means they can replace you easily, and training is very efficient," another anonymous employer said.
A separate staff member said: "They expect your rate to stay the same all day and you're expected to keep that rate up all day.
"You can't go to the toilet."
"I don't drink water when I work so I don't have to go," said another.
The investigation alleges staff are occasionally sent home hours early without getting paid for the rest of their rostered shift.
"One day we were picking so fast they made us give ourselves a round of applause," an employee said. "Then they made us all go home early, and we didn't get paid for our whole shift."
The workers also claimed they were told by management to skip breaks during peak times.
Amazon denied the allegations made by the staff interviewed and was critical of the investigation.
"The article by the ABC is intentionally sensational in its reporting and is demeaning to the hardworking dedicated people who work at Amazon fulfilment centres and do a great job," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to news.com.au.