Home Business News MPs are dissatisfied over the failure of Amazon to be proactive in explaining the use of CCTV and associated AI systems to track staff

MPs are dissatisfied over the failure of Amazon to be proactive in explaining the use of CCTV and associated AI systems to track staff

by LLB Reporter
21st Apr 23 11:06 am

GMB, the union for Amazon workers, has responded to the cross-party House of Commons’ BEIS Committee’s report on UK labour markets.

The new report warns that Amazon’s ‘surveillance practices (for whatever intention they are deployed) are leading to distrust, micromanagement and, in some cases, disciplinary action against its workers.’

The Committee said that it had written to the company ‘expressing our dissatisfaction with the discrepancies in Amazon’s evidence and reiterated our concern that its use of surveillance technology to monitor the performance of its workers would no doubt put undue stress on its workforce.’

The intervention came after Amazon admitted that workers can be fired if they do not meet productivity targets.

Separately, newly published correspondence shows that the MPs told Amazon that ‘the Committee remains deeply dissatisfied about the failure of Amazon to be proactive in explaining the use of CCTV installation and associated AI systems to track your staff in Amazon warehouses.’

This lack of explanation would have led to Amazon being recalled to the Committee – had the Committee not changed due to changes in Government departments.

Strike action at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse has now reached its 12th day today (Friday), due to hit 14 full days of strike this weekend.

The workers are striking over poor pay as well as regular disrespect and surveillance by management.

GMB now has over 600 striking workers in Coventry. There are strike ballots at five further sites.

Laurence Turner, GMB head of research and policy, said, “This report confirms what Amazon workers tell us – they are stressed and burned out due to punishing targets, low pay and constant surveillance.

There are serious problems at Amazon that are harming the mental and physical health of its workers. Stress and constant surveillance should not be the hallmarks of work in the 21st century.

“There are serious questions to answer over the millions spent on Amazon through public sector contracts when these employment practices are well known.

“Amazon workers at Coventry are striking because they have had enough, and more workers are other sites are now balloting for action. It’s time for the company to listen to its workers and talk to GMB so we can make work better at Amazon.”

Amazon told LondonLovesBusiness.com, “We were pleased to provide evidence to the BEIS Committee on AI and technology in the workplace and strongly refute any suggestion that there were discrepancies in this evidence.

“Where we do use CCTV, it is only to ensure the safety of employees and the security of products in our buildings, as do many businesses, large and small. CCTV is not exceptional to Amazon in any way. To suggest that the use of these standard business practices amount to surveillance of employees is wrong.

“Similarly, another camera-based system – known internally as the Nike IDS system – has been misunderstood. It is not a surveillance tool but innovative technology which is focused on reducing manual tasks to support employees in their role.

”We have invited the Committee for a tour of a fulfilment centre so they can see this technology first hand and speak to our employees who use it, and are supported by it, every day.”

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