“It’s tough work. You’ll feel it in your legs for the first few weeks. When I started in Toronto I was walking 20 kilometers per day. I found it difficult as an ex-soldier, imagine! “
This is one of the first warnings that Director Joseph*, a former NATO soldier, issued to recruits at the Amazon distribution center in Lachin.
This is where I worked for five weeks in stealth, an experience recounted in the documentary, opposite amazon, broadcast on Eleco Club.
- Listen to journalist Dominique Cambron-Jules with Pierre Nantel
Listening to Joseph*, I thought this work would put me in shape. But after a few days, I realized that my body, like most of my fellow Amazonians, would suffer.
“In the middle of yesterday, I can no longer feel my shoulder,” Bashar* tells me during Black Friday, perhaps the busiest time of the year on Amazon.
- Hear from Claire Bourget, Director of the Academy for Digital Transformation
“My back and neck hurt,” complains Fred*, the newcomer, like many warehouse workers.
On Amazon, all positions on Earth are physical in their own way, but in beak – Pickup Tool – Too cumbersome due to its repetition.
Unlike Joseph*, to do this job, I don’t have to walk several kilometers a day. Lachine warehouse is very automated, so everything is implemented in about two square meters.
Robots (shelves installed on small vehicles) transport products that the computer asks me to pick up and put in a container or on a shelf to my workstation for packaging.
I’m supposed to do this little exercise at least every 12 seconds, or about 2,500 times a day. If I wanted to be at the top of the goal window, I had to complete it about 3,500 times.
“I can cancel my gym membership,” my colleague Kevin jokes.
The same muscles are used constantly. Despite the stretches my computer suggests I do every morning, I often have stiffness in my neck, shoulder, and forearm. Same thing my colleagues are complaining about.
There are actually two 30-minute breaks in a day of 10 and a half hours, but the end of this Transformation It rarely happens very quickly.
My legs often get stuck in the middle of the afternoon. I barely bend my knees to pick up another cast-iron skillet at the bottom of the rack. My protective boots seem too heavy for me to be able to climb up my ladder to get another bag of chips.
But on the flip side of my post, the bots aren’t slowing down. My performance is still part of my profile.
Amazon’s management of the risks associated with COVID has been widely criticized in Canada and the United States.
The lack of communication with the staff was particularly criticized.
We have been in contact with colleagues who have contracted the virus and have been away from work. But when our superiors told us about it, they denied that there were any cases,” New York employee Sean* Spring 2020 recalls.
Workers in his distribution center went on strike because they did not feel adequately protected. Some protesters were shot.
Myself, at Lachine, I learn by text, after a shift, that two colleagues have contracted COVID-19.
The message says “Additional confirmed cases”, but I have not been notified of any cases before. Three days later, a message appeared indicating that a third employee had been infected.
It was also through questioning my colleague Enrique* about his absence that I learned that he had to self-isolate 14 days after his wife contracted the virus.
Followed by the cameras
When I arrived in Lachin at the end of October, there were many hygiene measures, such as temperature measurements and mandatory masks.
Additionally, the manager, Joseph*, tells us that “400 cameras” are helping in the fight against COVID, by calculating times when employees stay for extended periods of six feet from each other.
The program records this misconduct on a daily basis.
Screens in the corridors and in the break room also let me know if I was far enough from my mates with the help of a green circle around me.
But the presence of these cameras does not guarantee a good ride. In the dressing room there is sometimes an uncomfortable closeness.
Many employees do not wear their masks over their noses and this worries some of my colleagues. Few even go so far as to write it on the comment board to alert the employer.
Inspectors from the Equity, Health and Safety Standards Commission visited Amazon just before it opened, we learned after requesting access to the information.
* Fake names
Amazon employee or ex-employee? Do you have any information? Contact our journalist confidentially at: [email protected] or at 514 257-1431.