Amazon has long been under scrutiny for its underwhelming vigilance on how its employees are treated. Over the years, the firm has increasingly been alleged of imposing a rigid, hyper-surveillant Orwellian structure that disregards basic human rights and safety.
Now, a report by VICE's Motherboard has surfaced that once again indicates the company's subcontractors are risking its employees' lives, this time by encouraging them to drive carelessly to meet delivery quotas.
It all has to do with an app called Mentor that tracks how drivers tackle the road and gives them a safety score to promote driving safely and prevent accidents. It now turns out that Amazon bosses have been telling their employees to turn off the app during delivery times to drive faster and, of course, more carelessly to meet their stringent delivery quotas.
"Starting tomorrow everyone needs to be logged into Mentor for at least 2 hours no more no less, so make sure that's one of the first things we're doing in the mornings," a dispatcher at an Amazon delivery station in Atlanta told drivers in a group chat in May 2020. The only problem is: The drivers are on the clock for 10 hours a shift.
Amazon Delivery Service Partners (which are quasi-independent partners of Amazon) drivers in New York, Texas, Michigan, Tennessee, and Georgia, all told Motherboard that their delivery companies ordered them to log off the app in the middle of their shifts. This is not the first time Amazon puts its workers' lives in danger for the sake of productivity.
Throughout the pandemic, warehouse workers have voiced concerns about Amazon not taking enough precautions to protect them, and authorities who made a surprise visit to an Amazon facility agreed. And that's not all, the firm has also potentially subjected its employees to dangerous chemicals by not having an MRSL (a list of chemicals that are banned from the manufacturing process), sells clothing from a factory blacklisted for its poor safety conditions, and more.
So how does Amazon get away with all this?
Amazon put the Mentor app in place to promote safety, yet apparently, it doesn't track to what extent it is used, that's one part of the problem. While the goodwill is worth appreciation, the lack of an adamant follow-up on this feature kind of negates the sentiment.
And we, the consumers, are partly to blame. As long as we keep buying the firm's products and benefiting from its super-fast delivery options, we are essentially allowing the firm to fuel this exquisite machinery to operate further.
In business, money talks and as long as we keep coming back for more, the company will continue its draconian way of running things. It's up to lawmakers and customers to correct the trajectory of certain aspects of how this service operates.