The TUC has today (Friday) released analysis that shows an Amazon warehouse worker would take over eight weeks, or 293 hours, to earn what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos makes in a second.
The analysis is based on reports of Bezos’ earnings this year. Last year, using his 2019 earnings, the TUC estimated it would take an Amazon warehouse worker over five weeks to earn what Bezos makes in a second. The marked increase to eight weeks this year reflects the enormous takings of the internet giant during the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2020 Amazon has seen its market value rocket, registering US $96 billion (£72 billion) in revenue for the third quarter alone – equivalent to nearly £33 million an hour. And Jeff Bezos’ personal wealth has also skyrocketed, making him the first person ever to be worth US $200 billion (£149 billion).
The eight weeks figure is considered a conservative estimate, as Bezos’ Black Friday and Christmas earnings are yet to be released in what the Amazon CEO himself expects to be “an unprecedented holiday season”.
Despite huge profits, workers at Amazon describe gruelling conditions, unrealistic productivity targets, surveillance, bogus self-employment and a refusal to recognise or engage with unions unless forced.
According to the GMB Union, between 2015 and 2018, ambulances were called out 600 times to 14 Amazon warehouses in Britain due to workers collapsing in unsafe, high-pressure working conditions.
The TUC is calling on the government to bring forward its long-awaited employment bill to clamp down on the poor working practices rife in workplaces like Amazon, and to strengthen trade unions and collective bargaining.
The union body is calling for:
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Amazon’s bumper profits mean Christmas has come early for Jeff Bezos. Yet many of his staff continue to work in gruelling, exploitative conditions.
“Amazon workers have played a key role during this pandemic. The very least they deserve is dignity at work.
“If the government is serious about levelling up Britain, it needs to start by levelling up pay and conditions.
“Ministers must get on with bringing forward the long-awaited employment bill to end exploitative working practices like zero hours contracts and boost rights and pay.“
Earlier this year, the TUC called on government to use its purchasing power to stand up to Amazon on workers’ rights, as it published new analysis which showed up to £630 million of government money spent on contracts with Amazon in recent years.
- The TUC’s calculation is based on reports that Jeff Bezos made $3,715 per second up to 12 August 2020.
-Amazon warehouse workers in the UK (outside London) typically earn £9.50 an hour. This excludes the additional hazard pay implemented for a two month period this year.
-At current exchange rates it would take those workers 294 hours, or 8 weeks based on a 35-hour working week, to match what Bezos earns per second.
- Last year it was reported that Jeff Bezos earned $2,489 per second and it would have taken Amazon workers 203 hours to match what Bezos earned per second in 2019.
- A 2016 undercover investigation revealed that drivers for external agencies contracted by Amazon were expected to deliver up to 200 parcels per day. Drivers often worked more than 11 hours, breaking legal limits and by the time deductions for things like optional van hire and insurance were accounted for, ended up earning less than the minimum wage at the time of £7.20 per hour.
- The TUC recently published a report, Challenging Amazon, which looks at Amazon’s exploitative business model and what needs to be done to improve its treatment of workers
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.
TUC press office
020 7467 1248
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