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Does Amazon treat its staff fairly?

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“It’s as if you’ve got the CEO of the company in bed with you at 3am breathing down your neck.” Jason Merkoski, said a former Amazon Engineer.

While online giant Amazon has been revelling in success lately, a recent exposé published by The New York Times has largely clouded CEO Jeff Bezos’s company.

The controversial 5,900 word piece uncovered extremely unsettling anecdotes from employees who stated that they were essentially punished for acquiring terminal or severe illnesses, or experiencing personal events.

One woman with breast cancer was reportedly put on “performance improvement plans”, while another had been put on the same improvement plan after having a stillborn child: “the most devastating event” in her life.  Others claimed to not have slept for four consecutive days.

Molly Jay, a member of the Kindle team commented in reference to her own experience “When you’re not able to give your absolute all, 80 hours a week, they see it as a major weakness,” she said. It seems that Amazon wants all or nothing from its employees and the article suggests that human rights are not a priority for the e-tailer.

In addition to unacceptable personal treatment, other employees have also complained about the way they have been made to treat others. A Marketer who worked in the retail division for six years said: “You learn how to diplomatically throw people under the bus… It’s a horrible feeling.”

Former employee Bo Olson who worked at Amazon in a book marketing role for less than two years cited that most if not all employees are unhappy working for the internet behemoth.  “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face. Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk” he said.

While the cases reported by The NYT are unheard of, Amazon itself added that staff are held to “unreasonably high” standards.

A company spokesman did say however, that it was not “policy or practice” to treat employees with cancer or other serious problems in the way described.

“If we were to become aware of anything like that, we would take swift action to correct it,” he said.

Talya Misiri

Published on Monday 17 August by Editorial Assistant

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