Amazons latest fulfilment centre will be its fourth such unit in the Midlands.Amazon is recruiting for 400 new British employees, after unveiling plans for a new fulfilment centre in Rugby.The Washington-based tech firm is set to hire IT professionals, managers, engineers and HR staff for its latest warehouse unit in Britain.Amazon’s latest operations base will be its fourth such outfit in the Midlands, in addition to Coalville, Daventry and Rugeley.This year, the tech giant is set to open further fulfilment centres in Bristol, Bolton and Coventry.“We are delighted to expand our operations in the Midlands where we already have a dedicated workforce of more than 2,500 people,” said Stefano Perego, director of customer fulfilment, Amazon.
1-Click ordering a massively discounted flat-screen TV, or seventy pounds of coarse-grained salt, it can be easy to forget, or temporarily repress, all those stories you’ve read about, say, working conditions in Amazon’s warehouses, or its propagation of the gig economy through contract labour.If you’re a Prime member, or Jeff Bezos, you might be pleased to hear that, despite the tax-dodging and predatory pricing and labor exploitation detailed below, our experts were for the most part hesitant to saddle Amazon with that particular word—but then, there’s a difference between being “not evil” and “good.”Associate Professor, Seattle University School of LawEvil suggests something outside of the norm, and—unfortunately—I don’t think Amazon’s labour practices qualify as that.I understand (from first-hand experience) why people use Amazon—it’s a time-saver, and people lead busy lives—so I won’t criticise Amazon shoppers.I worked at Google for four years; Google also used hidden, underpaid workers and oceans of our data to monetise our lives.
Employees at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in the UK have taken to a "toilet bottle" system for fear that regular bathroom breaks might cost them their job, an author alleges after working undercover at the warehouse.The whistleblower, James Bloodworth, took a job at the fulfillment center in Staffordshire while writing a book on low wages in the UK.He claims that bathroom access at the facility is scarce, with some workers located several floors from the nearest toilet.Coupled with ambitious productivity targets and strictly regimented break schedules, the situation has forced some workers to take drastic measures, Bloodworth says.A survey of 241 British fulfillment center employees released separately on Monday found that about three quarters of respondents were afraid of taking a traditional bathroom break, citing time concerns."The breaks are too strict," one respondent writes.
Amazon is expanding in Australia and, to help keep up with customer demand and its increasing inventory, the online marketplace has set plans in motion to establish its second warehouse in the Western Sydney suburb of Moorebank.The new 43,000 square metre fulfilment centre will complement the one in Melbourne, which was up and running in October 2017, in time for Amazon to launch Down Under in December."Sydney represents another important development for our growth strategy in Australia, following a steady and progressive increase in customer demand," said Amazon Australia’s operations director Robert Bruce.With a new setup comes the need for more manpower.Amazon will begin recruitment for technical specialists, operations managers and support staff immediately, a move welcomed by Liverpool mayor Wendy Waller.“This is a great win for our local community; the Amazon facility will be a boon for South-West Sydney and we look forward to having good jobs for people close to where they live and having a partner involved in the local community,” she said.
Hanna, the tall, unflappably upbeat general manager of Amazon's fulfillment center in Fall River, Massachusetts, is giving me a tour of the 1.2 million-square-foot building (that's 26 football fields, in case you were curious) to show me all the big and bulky items Amazon keeps there."Suspensions, transmissions, engines, I've seen everything," Hanna, a 20-year Navy vet who joined Amazon three years ago, told me while standing by a two-basin metal restaurant kitchen sink in a protective wooden cage.You may use Amazon and its Prime membership program to buy popular items like diapers, paper towels or iPhone chargers."What Amazon has been really good at is being the channel that people go to, to look for different kinds of items," said Laura Behrens Wu, founder and CEO of Shippo, which makes shipping software for e-commerce companies.Beyond Amazon, there's a broader push by online retailers like Wayfair, Overstock and others to sell us anything and everything online, even the biggest stuff, in hopes of taking over more of retail.This in-house operation is specially made for e-commerce deliveries of its large, bulky and fragile homegoods items, like armoires, sheds and vanities.
Hanna, the tall, unflappably upbeat general manager of Amazon's fulfillment center in Fall River, Massachusetts, is giving me a tour of the 1.2 million-square-foot building (that's 26 football fields, in case you were curious) to show me all the big and bulky items Amazon keeps there."Suspensions, transmissions, engines — I've seen everything," Hanna, a 20-year Navy vet who joined Amazon three years ago, tells me while standing by a two-basin metal restaurant kitchen sink in a protective wooden cage.You may use Amazon and its Prime membership program to buy popular items like diapers, paper towels or iPhone chargers."What Amazon has been really good at is being the channel that people go to, to look for different kinds of items," says Laura Behrens Wu, founder and CEO of Shippo, which makes shipping software for e-commerce companies.Beyond Amazon, there's a broader push by online retailers like Wayfair, Overstock and others to sell us anything and everything online, even the biggest stuff, in hopes of taking over more of retail.This in-house operation is specially made for e-commerce deliveries of its large, bulky and fragile homegoods items, like armoires, sheds and vanities.
Those sweet kicks you ordered are sitting in your closet acting like they have always been there.Since Amazon offers tours of their fulfillment centers (it’s open to the public, not just media) we decided to get a behind-the-scenes look at the entire process.Remember that scene at the end of Indiana Jones’ Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Ark of the Covenant is put into a warehouse, and the camera pans farther and farther out to show the vast space, making it clear that the Ark would likely be lost forever?We got that feeling when we saw Amazon’s endless “library” of inventory that is stored at the 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Kent, Washington.This is just one of Amazon’s more than 100 fulfillment centers of similar size across the country.The giant warehouse we toured felt like a miniature city, with boxes of stuff traveling on crisscrossing highways of conveyor belts — commuters moving from station to station.
A 94-page report detailing poor working conditions at a Chinese Amazon facility has emerged barely two months after Amazon was accused of overly strict rules on breaks at its UK fulfilment centre.Workers putting together Echo speakers and Kindles among other Amazon products are subjected to work over 100 hours of overtime every month in exchange for low pay at the firm's facility in Hengyang, China, according to New York-based labour watchdog China Labor Watch on Sunday.In one instance, workers worked 14 consecutive days during peak season.The facility is owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, which also makes Apple's iPhones.The report detailed findings from a nine-month investigation that ended in April, which found workers putting in more overtime hours than permitted by Chinese labour law (which limits overtime to 36 hours every month) in order to make ends meet.Still, wages are deducted as penalty for taking leave or "unexcused absences," and workers are subjected to verbal abuse.
In another bid to shake up Australian retail, Amazon has finally launched its long-awaited Prime membership service Down Under, which includes free two-day delivery on all domestic purchases.And while the news is exciting, it’s not coming with all the benefits that come with Prime membership in the US.Amazon will likely be hoping that the Australian launch of Prime will help temper some of the recent criticism the shopping giant has faced locally.The company announced just two weeks ago that Aussie shoppers will no longer be able to purchase goods from Amazon’s overseas sites – a decision that was made in the face of new laws that mean GST must be applied to all purchased goods shipped to Australia, even if they're bought from international sellers.In a bid to soften that blow, Amazon has set up a ‘global store’ option on its Australian site which offers millions of products that were previously available on amazon.com.The key selling point for Amazon Prime is that it offers fast tracked free delivery on millions of products on the site, along with access to some of the company’s streaming services.
HMRC not using its extended powers to bring down tax fraudstersHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has estimated that the UK lost £1 billion to £1.5 billion from 2015 to 2016 due to online tax fraud.A report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published this morning warned that online retailers who are not fully tax compliant are undercutting UK business by up to 20 percent; this is resulting in staff layoffs and the closure of businesses.MP Meg Hillier Chair of the PAC commented in the report that: “Online VAT fraud is hugely damaging yet, as online sales continue to grow, the response of HMRC and the marketplaces where fraudsters operate has been dismal.”The HMRC has new extended powers to hold online retailers and platforms to account for tax fraud and unpaid VAT of businesses that are operating in online marketplaces.If the HMRC believes an overseas retailer is committing tax fraud it can hold their stock in a UK fulfillment house in order to bring about compliance with the law.
Yesterday afternoon, Somali-American workers marched outside of Amazon’s Shakopee, Minnesota fulfillment center, chanting “hear our voice.” Estimates of the exact number of marches vary from source to source, but The Minneapolis Star Tribune puts it at around 100.It’s a fairly familiar refrain for the company, after years of reports about questionable working conditions.Some of that came to a head earlier this year when pressure from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders led the company to adopt a $15 minimum wage for warehouse workers.The protesters cited unfair working conditions and the insensitive treatment of a local workforce that’s approximately 40 percent East African.“We needed secured jobs, we are not robots,” one employee told a local Fox affiliate.The protest comes the same week employees at a New York City warehouse announced plans to unionize.
But last week, this placid town of 40,000 in the US state of Minnesota became the epicentre of the fight for humane working conditions at one of the world’s most valuable companies.For the last two years, Amazon has quietly expanded its presence in the suburb, and worker resentment towards conditions there has grown with it, culminating in today’s protest outside fulfilment centre MSP1—a sprawling 850,000-square-foot structure abutting a heavy industrial zone—attended by local activists and joined by Amazon workers ending their shifts.It ended with approximately 250 people marching on the building’s main entrance.The discontent primarily began as a reaction to allegations that the pace Amazon set for its workers, many of whom are practising Muslims, was impacting their religious freedom.Bloomberg reported that activists within the Shakopee facilities previously brought demands to Amazon over the summer, when the Muslim holiday of Ramadan intersected with Prime Day, an annual celebration of consumerism.“We have now met twice with Amazon management, which hasn’t happened anywhere else as far as we know,” Abdirahman Muse, the executive director of Awood Center, told Gizmodo.
Amazon announced it will introduce a new fee for sellers using its Fulfillment by Amazon program and who want to store and fulfill "dangerous" items like aerosols and lithium-ion batteries.The fees are a step higher than those charged to store and fulfill other kinds of items.The new fees come after a can of bear repellent fell off a shelf and released fumes in an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey, injuring dozens of workers.Sign up for our best stories delivered to your inboxBy clicking Sign Up, you agree to receive marketing emails from Insider Inc. and accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.Amazon appears to be discouraging its sellers who use the Fulfillment by Amazon program from sending more dangerous items into its warehouses.
With the additional funding in hand, Darkstore plans to expand its fulfillment center into more categories.Currently, Darkstore fulfills products for brands in the areas of footwear, home and consumer electronics.With the funding, Darkstore will expand into lifestyle, health and beauty and athletic leisure, Darkstore founder and CEO Lee Hnetinka told TechCrunch over the phone.“There are other categories where we get inbound and turn it down,” Hnetinka said.Down the road, Hnetinka said he envisions additional categories, including groceries and perishables.Darkstore works by exploiting excess capacity in storage facilities, malls and bodegas and enables them to be fulfillment centers with just a smartphone.
Still, it's massively convenient for some specific needs.The service, which promises two-hour delivery for a wide variety of items from grocery to electronics, has expanded rapidly across the country.Most recently, Amazon added Whole Foods to its list of Prime Now-eligible stores in cities across the country.Prime Now has also become one of the most important pillars in Amazon's quest to take a bigger bite of the grocery market by combining convenience with selection.To shop on Prime Now, you have to first select which store you're ordering from.I found some on-sale goodies that looked perfect for a test of the service.
Amazon recently came under fire when the Verge revealed it used a system that automatically determines the productivity levels of its warehouse workforce, and terminates laggards if they’re too slow to move packages.It was yet another sign that automation was taking over at the retail giant, and a particularly ominous one at that.In a subsequent press tour of its Baltimore fulfilment centre, ostensibly intended to parry against this latest volley of charges of extreme and robot-like working conditions, Scott Anderson, director of Amazon Robotics Fulfillment, took pains to highlight the human element still necessary at the company’s capacious warehouses.“There is a fallacy in the initial understanding of ‘Are we going to be a lights-out fulfilment network in the next few years?’” Anderson said, according to Reuters.“In the current form, the technology is very limited.To the 100,000 plus people who work at Amazon’s fulfilment centres, and to the local economies and social systems that will need to cope with such a large influx of automated-out-of-work employees, it might not seem like such a lengthy timeline.
Amazon recently came under fire when the Verge revealed it used a system that automatically determines the productivity levels of its warehouse workforce, and terminates laggards if they’re too slow to move packages.It was yet another sign that automation was taking over at the retail giant, and a particularly ominous one at that.In a subsequent press tour of its Baltimore fulfilment centre, ostensibly intended to parry against this latest volley of charges of extreme and robot-like working conditions, Scott Anderson, director of Amazon Robotics Fulfillment, took pains to highlight the human element still necessary at the company’s capacious warehouses.“There is a fallacy in the initial understanding of ‘Are we going to be a lights-out fulfilment network in the next few years?’” Anderson said, according to Reuters.“In the current form, the technology is very limited.To the 100,000 plus people who work at Amazon’s fulfilment centres, and to the local economies and social systems that will need to cope with such a large influx of automated-out-of-work employees, it might not seem like such a lengthy timeline.
From drone deliveries to checkout-free brick-and-mortar stores, Amazon has made no secret of its desire to automate as many parts of the retail experience as possible.While Amazon employs thousands of people in its fulfillment centers, it may be because it hasn’t yet figured out a way to automate their role.Things could be about to get even more dicey for human workers as Amazon is reportedly rolling out machines capable of boxing up customer orders.According to Reuters, Amazon has considered using machines at dozens of warehouses, removing at least 24 roles at each one.Because each machine costs $1 million plus operational expenses, it would likely take Amazon a little under two years to recoup the cost of installing the machines.The machines are manufactured by Italian firm CMC Srl, and are called CartonWrap.
This summer, Amazon will launch a number of warehouses designed specifically to hold hazardous materials, such as the bear mace that caused some of its employees grief last year.The company has been developing these facilities for months, it confirmed in a recent report, including a 500,000sqft fulfillment center that will open in Mississippi in coming weeks.These facilities will be home to products that range from common cleaning agents to nail polish.Amazon confirmed plans to open warehouses dedicated to hazardous materials, telling Wired that it began developing the facilities before a bear mace incident last December that sent several employees to the hospital.The development kicked off with an 80,000sqft test facility in Virginia, the company said, paving the way for the 500,000sqft Mississippi facility it will launch this summer.The facilities are ‘specially engineered’ for these risky products, which can include things like flammable items, potentially troublesome aerosols, cleaning agents, and other similar items.
While deal-hungry Amazon customers flock to the site to celebrate Prime Day, its warehouse employees in Shakopee, Minnesota will commemorate the sale in a different way — with a strike.The employees at Amazon’s Minnesota fulfillment center have planned a six-hour work stoppage for July 15th, the first day of Amazon Prime Day, to protest their working conditions.Employees plan to strike for three hours at the start of the day shift and three hours at the start of the night shift at the facility, Bloomberg reports.“We want to take the opportunity to talk about what it takes to make that work happen and put pressure on Amazon to protect us and provide safe, reliable jobs, ” William Stolz, one of the Shakopee employees organizing the strike, told Bloomberg.It’s not clear what the strike would mean for customers hungry for their Prime Day deals, but a work stoppage could lead to delivery delays.Employees say that Amazon has failed to convert temporary employees into Amazon employees and that it sets productivity quotas that are unsafe.
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