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(en) Poland, ozzip: OZZ Employee Initiative statement regarding the death of an Amazon employee [machine translation]

Date Tue, 26 May 2020 09:09:51 +0300


On the night of May 17-18, we regretfully learned about the death of our colleague employed at the Amazon logistics center near Poznan. On behalf of the entire National Trade Union Employee Initiative, we express our sincere regret and compassion for the relatives of the deceased. It is difficult to find the right words in the face of the blow that fell on the employee's family. We can only wish a lot of strength to bear this pain. ---- We would also like to assure you that the collective management organization will continue its efforts to prevent such tragedies from happening. For several years, we have been conducting disputes with the company regarding working conditions, focusing primarily on occupational health and safety. We entered into a collective dispute twice demanding, among others stop the automatic punishment of employees for results below 100% of the norm and permanent employment contracts for everyone who has gone through a 3-month trial period. Often, during negotiations with the company, we demanded changes such as extending breaks or allowing employees to rest during work, e.g. by using the chair whenever the employee feels tired. After our intervention at the National Labor Inspectorate, Amazon was forced to introduce chairs in rest areas.

After the pandemic was announced, Amazon fulfilled some of the union's demands. Weekly standards were suspended, breaks were extended. The company explains in a message to employees that these changes are necessary so that employees can properly take care of their safety and hygiene at work. We have been talking for years that getting over 100% of the standard does not go hand-in-hand with safe working conditions. Interestingly, without employee ratings that are designed to get the most out of us, Amazon has recently made huge profits. In March, the entire warehouse in Poznan performed from 100 to 104.9% of the expected rate of productivity. This shows that it is not necessary to constantly put pressure on employees, perhaps even to the detriment of the company.

If employees really are to focus on their safety, it is necessary to guarantee them stable employment. The change in the form of suspension of employee assessments is fictitious if the company employs 70% of the crew on unstable contracts. Especially now, when working in a warehouse is associated with a high risk of infection or the consequences of working at full capacity with restrictions introduced, Amazon should change the employment model to a more stable one. Meanwhile, the company did the exact opposite. Warehouses that did not employ employees in the past through temporary employment agencies are currently doing so. Where agencies recruited for monthly contracts, contracts signed for a period of two weeks have become the norm! Employees who feel unwell but they have short-term temporary employment contracts and who dare to go on sick leave, are punished by not extending their contracts or shortening them to another two weeks. Also employees with a blue ID (employed by Amazon) on temporary contracts, going on sick leave, risk that their contracts will not be extended. In addition, even if Amazon has stopped issuing weekly assessments, individual standards are still registered in the system, employees are informed about them and on this basis decisions are made to extend the contract and even permission to work overtime. In addition, the benchmark is the performance indicators before the change in the organization of work for the period of the epidemic. The Employee Initiative reported to Amazon a request that, as in Germany, the company assured all employees that their contracts during the crisis would be extended, regardless of the norm and sick leave. We often point out that subjecting some employees to enormous pressure caused by the need to fight for another contract affects working conditions in general and exposes all employees to the consequences of working in an environment that creates a risk to their health and life.

The deceased woman worked mainly in the stow department, on the tower called Pick Tower. In 2017, a court expert in the field of occupational health and safety Jaroslaw Luska visited the same tower in a warehouse in Poznan, making an assessment of occupational health and safety in Sady. First of all, he pointed out that the employer does not adapt work conditions and processes to the psychophysical capabilities of the employee at all. The expert also argued that the employer should provide for different labor standards depending on age. "Psychophysical possibilities of man decrease with age, therefore, especially at the forced pace of work, the same norms for 20 and 50-year-olds should not be used." Other norms should also apply to men and women. The reviews also read that Amazon does not organize the working time in the magazines incorrectly: "In the entire work organization process, the defendant did not take into account the adaptation of working conditions to the psychophysical capabilities of the employee-employee. Knowing the nature of work should, for example, reduce working time, use more frequent breaks in work, and not extend it to 10.5 hours a day, giving an additional 30-minute break worked by employees. " The expert said that the management and organization of health and safety at Amazon "does not even meet the general requirements" and may cause mental and physical injuries. In his opinion, in Amazon there are such psychophysical threats as: overload of walking work, high time pressure caused by the need to comply with norms, shift work, night work, extended work disturbing social relations, limited participation in decision making, no impact on workload,

Unfortunately, as employees and trade union representatives, we are forced to agree with the expert. Perhaps the tragedy that happened in Amazon would not happen if the company finally began to take employees and the voice of the social side seriously. The ignorance that Amazon shows regarding employee health is illustrated by the mask policy. At the beginning of the pandemic, donning them was forbidden because of the ban on covering the face. At the time, both trade unions demanded that the ban be lifted and that they be allowed to be worn on a voluntary basis. It has been like that for some time. Finally, the company introduced a strict obligation to cover the nose and mouth. At the same time, from among ordinary employees who do not specialize in health and safety regulations, additional law enforcement services were recruited to discipline others and to write down the data of these, who, for example, temporarily dropped their mask from their noses. Although the ordinance of the Council of Ministers provided for exceptions to wearing a mask and did not introduce an obligation to wear them in all workplaces, Amazon did not provide for these exceptions. The obligation applied to everyone, regardless of health status. We meant this rigid approach by chanting the slogan "we are not robots". The company automates our movements, organizes our work in the most routine and monotonous way, controls and calculates all our activities, sets the pace of work in advance, does not take into account the fact that employees are in different health, at different ages, have different sex, other needs and their psycho-physical condition changes. that the ordinance of the Council of Ministers provided for exceptions to wearing a mask and did not introduce an obligation to wear them in all workplaces, Amazon did not provide for these exceptions. The obligation applied to everyone, regardless of health status. We meant this rigid approach by chanting the slogan "we are not robots". The company automates our movements, organizes our work in the most routine and monotonous way, controls and calculates all our activities, sets the pace of work in advance, does not take into account the fact that employees are in different health, at different ages, have different sex, other needs and their psycho-physical condition changes. that the ordinance of the Council of Ministers provided for exceptions to wearing a mask and did not introduce an obligation to wear them in all workplaces, Amazon did not provide for these exceptions. The obligation applied to everyone, regardless of health status. We meant this rigid approach by chanting the slogan "we are not robots". The company automates our movements, organizes our work in the most routine and monotonous way, controls and calculates all our activities, sets the pace of work in advance, does not take into account the fact that employees are in different health, at different ages, have different sex, other needs and their psycho-physical condition changes. We meant this rigid approach by chanting the slogan "we are not robots". The company automates our movements, organizes our work in the most routine and monotonous way, controls and calculates all our activities, sets the pace of work in advance, does not take into account the fact that employees are in different health, at different ages, have different sex, other needs and their psycho-physical condition changes. We meant this rigid approach by chanting the slogan "we are not robots". The company automates our movements, organizes our work in the most routine and monotonous way, controls and calculates all our activities, sets the pace of work in advance, does not take into account the fact that employees are in different health, at different ages, have different sex, other needs and their psycho-physical condition changes.

More importantly, when changing the organization of work, Amazon ignored the necessary energy expenditure and workplace risk studies. Earlier, research on energy expenditure carried out at the request of associations by PIP showed significant expenditure overruns in several sections. The company explicitly ignores the fact that it is a real threat to employees' lives and clearly tries to avoid such measurements. The provisions of the Labor Code were also broken, introducing, on radical terms, new personal protective equipment without any agreement with the social party. Amazon does not consider trade unions as partners in making decisions. The company has recently been punished by the Courts in France for not consulting employees' representatives on workplace safety. This is a common practice used by the company in warehouses. We demand that the company take employee representatives seriously, especially when it comes to consulting changes in the organization of work and assessing the risks that are inherent in these changes.

We are afraid that due to current regulations regarding accidents at work, the situation from the Poznan warehouse will not be considered an accident and it will be easy to sweep it under the rug. We - Amazon warehouse employees - however, know perfectly well how we feel after each change and how much the organization of work at Amazon affects our lives and destroys our health. We will not stop fighting to defend our interests and improve working conditions. We call on all employees of Polish Amazon magazines to actively participate in trade unions, support the activities of the unions and oppose the practices of the company that hits our health and our dignity. Only mass mobilization will improve the quality of our working conditions, and thus our lives. Together, we must take responsibility for the work environment, in which we spend over 40 hours a week and push through changes that will guarantee us an appropriate level of safety and hygiene. Amazon strives to set work standards and develop its monopoly globally, and imposing discipline on us is a key element of this strategy. This is not an equal fight, but in the struggle with the giant we are not alone.

Acting in defense of our interests, we cooperate with employees of other countries, thanks to which we are becoming stronger. On April 30, together with our colleagues from Germany, France, Spain, the USA and Slovakia, we sent a letter to Jeff Bezos demanding that the company organize work in a way that allows employees to take care of their own health throughout the year, not just during a pandemic and changed permanent policy regarding standards and breaks. Amazon, which has become extremely rich during the epidemic, must finally make its employees' health and public health a priority, not an empty slogan.

Factory Commission at Amazon Fullfilment Poland Sp. z o. o

http://ozzip.pl/informacje/item/2661-oswiadczenie-ozzinicjatywa-pracownicza-w-sprawie-smierci-pracownicy-amazon
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