Amazon factory conditions? Shut up or robots get your job, says Times writer

The retail giant's treatment of workers is a disgrace. But Ross Clark warns unions to keep quiet about it


Scribbler Ross Clark has a message for the GMT union after it slammed working conditions at Amazon’s UK warehouses.

After reports in the New York Times about the retail giant’s appalling treatment of staff in the US, distribution centres in the UK came under the spotlight.

Elly Baker at the GMT said: “You can’t be a normal person. You have to be an above-average Amazon robot all the time.”

This was music to Ross Clark’s ears. 

Writing in the Times today, he said:

“If I were the company’s chief executive Jeff Bezos I would be asking myself: has the time come for us to employ real robots?

It cannot be beyond the wit of technologists to design an Amazon warehouse which employs about three people — all skilled technicians whose role is to make sure the automated arms and levers keep rifling through the shelves to select the right books to dispatch.”

He concludes:

Bleat too much about pay and conditions and Amazon’s warehouses will catch up with the futuristic images on 1960s comics, where uncomplaining robots take the strain.”

In other words, if a trade union does its job and raises concerns about working conditions, its members risk being sacked and replaced with robots.

How nice for Amazon to have Mr Clark volunteer to keep Amazon staff in line, and for the Murdoch-owned Times to publish his friendly advice!

The Telegraph recently made a similar threat about striking train staff, pointing out the same advantage – robots don’t complain.

Ironically, Clark draws attention to the original problem – the boss class thinking of working people as replaceable machines.

Which is why we have unions in the first place.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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