Monday, 25 November 2013

Would you walk a mile in the shoes of an Amazon Warehouse worker?

In order to make ends meet at the moment I work behind a bar.

I enjoy the job. It's minimum wage, minimum responsibility.  It fits in pretty well with being a part-time student and with me starting up my own business.  It provides me with a bit of stable income and it's casual so I can (to some extent) dictate how often I work.

The hours are obviously anti-social and the work is rarely intellectually stimulating but so long as I'm busy that's the least of my worries.  I'm fortunate because the shifts aren't back-breakingly long. Ultimately I guess I'm there out of choice and (sorry team!) I don't imagine that I'll be there forever.

That's probably not the case if you work in an Amazon warehouse.  But to be fair, I really don't know.

What I do know is that menial work seems to be very unpopular in this country.

I was working with a woman from Ireland last night who was pretty damning in her critique of the English work ethic. She feels there is a tendency in this country to talk more about the work that needs doing rather than actually get on and do it.  She said she'd noticed that the phrases used in relation to work are pretty passive, e.g. 'I'll give it a go', 'I'll see what I can do'....

It's a point of view, rather than a definitive condemnation of course.  But I'm interested, reading the Amazon 'expose' on the BBC website earlier today, to understand what it is we actually want in this country in terms of work.  According to the article Amazon have invested £1bn in the country and created 5,000 new permanent jobs.  We want work, right?  Just not that kind of work I guess.

A dear friend of mine believes that this country is being run down precisely in order that it can become the packing factory of the west.  He may well be right.  Although for my money I think that credits 'the powers that be' with more control and ability to direct things than I suspect they really have.

My trouble is this - we (collectively as a nation) want 'stuff' for hardly any money at all.  And that's the root of the issue.

We're happy to pay two pounds for a tee-shirt, to buy one-get-one-free at the supermarket or to buy our books and whatnot online significantly cheaper than we can at the bookstore down the road but then, on the other hand, we think it's outrageous if people (in our own country...) are being made to work ten and a half hour shifts and walk eleven miles (which by the way is the extreme rather than the median measurement) during their working day/night.

Here's the thing.  Every cheap item of clothing or jewellery or food that you buy I can promise you someone somewhere down the supply chain got shafted.  They may or may not live or work in this country but that doesn't mean they are not being done over and in a way that is equal to or much worse than working in conditions which 'increase the risk of mental illness'.

I'm not saying it's okay the way that Amazon workers are treated.  I'm not saying it's okay to live in a country which accepts that there is a distinction between a 'minimum wage' and a 'living wage', but I am saying that whilst we buy cheap all of us are buying into and condoning a system which is doing people over. Globally.

So, workers of the world unite?

Well, yes.  But whilst we're at it could somebody please work out an economic plan in which the world functions without it being that we simply push out all the work we disapprove of being passed onto another nation, another person, elsewhere in the world....?

No comments:

Post a Comment