Amazon has run into yet more controversy surrounding workers rights after a leaked memo revealed it has been aware of its drivers being forced to urinate in bottles and defecate in bags for months.
Yesterday the official Amazon News Twitter account responded to reports circling in the media that its ‘delivery associates’ were being forced to urinate in bottles while working over fear of wasting too much time and risking penalties.
I was the person who found the pee in the bottle. Trust me, it happened. https://t.co/U76UlDRWSO
— James Bloodworth (@J_Bloodworth) March 25, 2021
Responding to Wisconsin congressman Mark Pocan, Amazon said: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us. The truth is that we have over a million incredible employees around the world who are proud of what they do, and have great wages and health care from day one.”
The response was quoted around 9000 times within the next 12 hours, but Amazon fell further into a PR backlash after leaked documents emerged suggesting that not only were the allegations true, but Amazon had been aware since May 2020.
The email, first seen and reported by the Intercept, read: “This evening, an associate discovered human faeces in an Amazon bag that was returned to station by a driver.
“This is the 3rd occasion in the last 2 months when bags have been returned to station with poop inside. We understand that DA’s (driver associates) may have emergencies while on-road, and especially during Covid, DAs have struggled to find bathrooms while delivering. Regardless, DAs cannot, MUST NOT, return bags to station with poop inside.
“We’ve noticed an uptick recently of all kinds of unsanitary garbage being left inside bags: used masks, gloves, bottles of urine.”
It comes less than a week after Amazon delivery drivers launched a petition via Organise to lower the number of daily deliveries they have to hit during their shifts.
Organise told Retail Gazette that “there are thousands of verified Amazon delivery drivers who have signed the petition” and that it was “was started by a group of Amazon delivery drivers”
Amazon uses contractors for delivery services and does not employ drivers directly.
Nonetheless, the petition calls on Amazon to lower the number of daily deliveries amid claims that drivers are being overworked and that drop-off targets of up to 300 parcels per day are no longer safe.
One of the testimonials on the petition says the pressure to hit daily targets means they don’t have time for toilet breaks and they have to eat while they drive.
Amazon has not yet responded to a request for comment.