Retail giant Amazon has kicked off its annual Prime Day sales event worldwide, but the company is continuing to battle allegations of worker mistreatment in its fulfilment centres across the globe.
Kicking off at midnight on July 15 in all countries, Prime Day is a 48-hour discount extravaganza, however, the event will run for a total of 65 hours for Australians due to time zone differences, meaning Australian consumers will have the longest Prime Day of all participating countries.
Shoppers can claim varying discounts on all matter of items available from sellers on Amazon, including participating small business retailers selling through Amazon Marketplace. Additionally, like similar sales events, such as Click Frenzy, Prime Day offers limited-run deep-discount ‘lightning’ deals on certain products.
In a statement, Amazon Australia country manager Rocco Braeuniger said he was “excited to bring Aussies the longest Prime Day in the world”. SMEs across the globe eclipsed $1.5 billion in sales on last year’s Prime Day, which was Australia’s first after Amazon launched Down Under in 2017.
Melbourne-based luxury bed linen and homewares retailer Canningvale said they benefited from a 500% increase in sales after last year’s Prime Day.
“Prime Day has become one of the biggest shopping events in the northern hemisphere and, in time, we expect it to be no different for Australia,” managing director Jordan Prainito said in a statement.
However, amidst Prime Day’s popularity and apparent success with shoppers and businesses, Amazon workers internationally are taking action against the company for its alleged mistreatment of workers.
Forbes reports workers in Shakopee, Minnesota are planning a six-hour strike to coincide with the beginning of Prime Day in the US, protesting working conditions across Amazon’s fulfilment centres in the area. The workers claim Amazon pushes unrealistic productivity quotas and has inadequate safety protocols and poor communication.
“We’re forced to work like machines,” one worker told Forbes. In response, Amazon called the allegations “baseless” and said the company provides “great employment opportunities with excellent pay”.
Workers in Amazon Australia’s warehouse have also reported similar conditions, with employees telling Fairfax in September last year the company requires extreme key performance indicators, with employees given a countdown for picking and packing each item.
“You end up not being able to function because you’re so nervous and stressed out,” one worker said.
Workers were also reportedly directed to start the day by sharing an “Amazon success story” and were involved in team chants of phrases such as “success!” or “Amazon!”
The company vehemently denied the claims, saying they were “simply misguided”.
However, another report from ABC News in February further pushed the claims of mismanagement and overwork inside Amazon Australia’s warehouses, with workers telling ABC they felt “dehumanised”. The report also said that during peak times, such as Prime Day sales events, workers were directed to skip the 15-minute breaks they were entitled to.
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“I feel like they resent the fact that I’m not a robot and that I’m made of flesh and bone,” they said.
Locally, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association has joined forces with the Transport Workers Union to represent Australian Amazon workers.