Oh, Amazon, you’ve got employees too!?

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SW LONDON — The giant online retailer has been written up in The Sunday Times this weekend for bad labour practices. A reporter took a job as a casual worker and explains how each level of the chain takes money away from the employee and treats them badly.

Who knows what effect the bad press will have on the retailer on what should be their biggest day of sales ever. You certainly couldn’t have arranged it at a worse time.

Are they really worse than other businesses? I suspect not. They pay more than minimum wage. They are hiring even in a bad economy. They create jobs in part of the country where jobs aren’t being created by others.

At the end of the piece the Sunday Times points out that they are not breaking any laws, and Amazon has a rebuttal placed on the Times’ website.

But that’s not the point, is it?

Treating people well, when you are at the bottom end of the labour market is only really an issue if you do something wrong, it seems.

If someone gets hurt, or laws are broken then there are issues. And that doesn’t seem right.


People being treated badly at the low end of the economy is worse when you compare the other stories about fund managers disappearing with $50 billion of people’s investments. As Bernard Madoff seems to have done. That’s more than 20 times Amazon’s profit last year.

But that story (apart from nice pictures of poor Nicola Horlick) has no human dimension, so it won’t get the press of an Amazon labour practice. And that’s a shame. Because people like Amazon are scraping together every cent they can to make their bankers happy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if bankers got excited about business that treat employees really well?


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One Response

  1. luca and isa

    I like this piece, very clever and valid!

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