Four ways Amazon monitors its workers

Amazon has been questioned for years about its policies with its employees. From some who claim to relieve themselves in a bottle so as not to waste time being controlled with Artificial Intelligence.

This story also appeared in Business Insider

Here are some of the tactics that the multinational company has followed to monitor its employees and outsourced professionals, mainly delivery men and people in logistics and distribution positions.

The delivery men, before cameras with AI from a company called Netradyne

Amazon drivers, many of whom are outsourced, learned earlier this year of the company’s plans to install a four-camera system with biometric sensors in vans in the United States. The tool would be able to monitor if the driver takes his eyes off the road, accelerates or even yawns, and will be able to send real-time notifications to bosses. Many of the delivery men found this practice invasive, and at least one quit his job for this reason.

When asked about this system and the protest resignation, Amazon reacted by sending positive opinions and testimonials from several of its workers in a statement. “We invested in security throughout our business and now we have started to deploy a system of cameras and leading security technologies for our fleet of vans.

In warehouses there are autonomous tools that monitor breaks and social distance

In April 2019 Business Insider teased how Amazon was installing a system to track the breaks (or the time they are not working) of its warehouse workers. According to investigations at the time, the system could cause a person to be fired without involving any human supervisor. It’s a statement, Amazon denied it: “It is absolutely false that employees are fired with an automatic system”: He maintained that, despite automatic tracking, personnel decisions continued to involve managers.

The breaks have been key in the vote to organize into an Amazon workers union in Bessemer, Alabama. A worker told Business Insider that she was unfairly punished by the system, which she also accuses of not being transparent enough. The worker reported in this medium that managers have the ability to edit break times at their discretion.

This video, which was included in an article in June last year and which has been removed from the multinational’s YouTube channel, also shows how the autonomous assistant that checks social distance works. Around the workers there are green circles. These turn red and light up if workers get within 2 meters of each other.

‘Heat maps’ of unionists at Whole Foods supermarkets

After buying Whole Foods, Amazon began to analyze the potential for the workforce of each supermarket in the chain to eventually unionize. Factors to take into account included the distance from the establishment of a union central headquarters or the number of complaints to Human Resources. These metrics were already echoed in April of last year by Business Insider, and they appeared in a classification of the then 510 supermarkets, ordered by the probability that workers’ assemblies arose (or not) in them.

In a statement on this map, Amazon detailed that “the heat map on team member relationships is designed to identify stores where there is a risk of union organizing.” When Business Insider asked a spokesperson for the multinational for comment, he responded that the company prefers direct relationships with employees, and not dialogue through a union.

The Pinkerton spy agency, in European warehouses

Leaked documents from Amazon showed last year that Amazon had worked with the spy agency Pinkerton, known for its work against the union, Motherboard uncovered. In December of last year assured that the people of Pinkerton had come to infiltrate a strike in Barcelona, to monitor both workers and journalists. Amazon then assured Business Insider that all the actions they carry out “are in line with local legislation and the full knowledge and support of the authorities.”