Amazon worker shares dystopian gameboard which monitors how hard staff are working

TikTok user says Amazon warehouse was ‘worst job I’ve ever had’ because of low pay and being ‘treated like a machine’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 06 December 2021 18:11
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Amazon worker appear to share dystopian programme that tracks how hard staff are working

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A TikTok user shared what appeared to be a screen turning Amazon warehouse work into a kind of game.

The video posted by @chutuo, which has garnered almost two million views, shows what seems to be a screen in an Amazon warehouse listing possible “achievements”.

Other items on the list include “punctual” and “picking up speed”. The item entitled “make history” urges workers to pick up one million products.

In a separate video posted on Sunday, TikTok user @couryeo wrote that working at Amazon was “the worst job I’ve ever had”. The TikToker said she was “overworked” and “underpaid”. She added that she was “treated like a machine” and that there was “no socializing at all”.

“Basically a prison [in my opinion],” she wrote.

One of the top comments on the video showing the “achievements” screen was that it was an example of the “gamification of underpaid work”.

“Took the ‘logging into play job simulator’ trend to literal,” @ron.in wrote.

“Once you complete your weekly quests you get a 5-minute toilet break,” user @scientificstallion added.

The Independent couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the footage.

“Employees have told us they enjoy having the option to join in these workstation games, which are completely optional; they can switch in or out of different games depending on their preference, can play anonymously, or not play at all—the choice is theirs,” an Amazon spokesperson told The Independent in a statement.

Amazon hired around half a million people during the last year, and now have more than 1.2 million staff members across the world. While that’s an increase of more than 50 per cent compared to a year ago, the company is struggling with high turnover rates and a national labour shortage, The New York Times reported.

“We have a substantial issue of tight labour markets in the United States right now that is manifesting itself from psychotherapists to gardeners and from investment analysts to fast-food workers,” former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said, according to the paper.

He said concerns about the pandemic, the rising age of the workforce, and changes in the workplace, with people rethinking their relationship to their jobs, were all possible reasons behind the shortage.

“I think it is a source of wage inflation pressure and unless the Fed takes very substantial action, it is likely to be with us for quite some time,” Mr Summers said, adding that it could take a “few years” for the labour market to regain its balance.

Boston University business professor Marshall Van Alstyne told the paper: “We have to ask the question: Are they so big that they’re exhausting the labour pool?”

“They’re not,” Mr Van Alstyne said, arguing that there are still workers the company could attract with good pay.

The Brookings Institution wrote in a 2019 report that around 44 per cent of American workers have low-paying jobs. At the time, that included about 53 million people with a median hourly pay of $10.22. The professor argued that Amazon can continue to attract workers from other industries in the short term because of the company’s $15 starting wage.

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