Amazon denies reports of workers urinating in bottles, ‘heckles’ US senators

Published on Mar 26, 2021 04:20 PM IST

It started with a tweet from an Amazon executive, Dave Clark, taking a jibe at Vermont senator Bernie Sanders’ plan to meet Amazon workers in Alabama who are attempting to unionise.

A man walks past an Amazon logo outside the company's collection point in Mumbai, India.(REUTERS)
A man walks past an Amazon logo outside the company's collection point in Mumbai, India.(REUTERS)
By | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

E-commerce giant Amazon has resorted to a combative tone on social media to defend the allegations of poor working conditions and exploitation of loopholes in the tax system. Amazon News, which describes itself as an official Twitter account for news about the e-commerce firm, pushed back against claims made in several media reports about workers urinating in plastic bottles to save time for meeting the targets.

According to a Business Insider report, Amazon imposes strict time breaks and targets for warehouse workers and issues warning to those who don’t meet the goals or take extended breaks. English journalist James Bloodworth, who worked undercover at Amazon, has also documented the working condition in his book titled ‘Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain’. “I was the person who found the pee in the bottle. Trust me, it happened,” tweeted Bloodworth.

It started with a tweet from an Amazon executive, Dave Clark, taking a jibe at Vermont senator Bernie Sanders’ plan to meet the company’s workers in Alabama who are attempting to unionise. Clark said that he welcomes Sanders to Birmingham, a city in Alabama, and appreciates his push for a progressive workplace, however, he suggested that the senator himself has failed to deliver progressive legislation.

“I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace. I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace,” tweeted Clark. The Amazon executive then highlighted the company’s minimum wage policy of $15 per hour, something the Democrats, including US President Joe Biden, have been pushing for.

Wisconsin congressman Mark Pocan said that paying workers $15 an hour doesn't make the company a progressive workplace when “you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles”. “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us. The truth is that we have over a million incredible employees around the world who are proud of what they do, and have great wages and health care from day one,” Amazon News replied to Pocan’s tweet.


The reply has so far received around 3000 likes and has been quote-tweeted at least 15,000 times. According to dictionary.com, when replies to a tweet vastly outnumber likes or retweets, it’s called “getting ratioed” in Twitterverse. It means people are objecting to the tweet and considering its content bad, often indicating a PR disaster for companies.

In another Twitter fight, when Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren posted a video of her discussing the tax system and talking about a bill to make the “most profitable companies pay a fair share”, Amazon News replied saying the company doesn’t make the law and “just follow them”. It also asked Warren to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour while she’s “working on changing the tax code”.

“I didn’t write the loopholes you exploit, @amazon – your armies of lawyers and lobbyists did. But you bet I’ll fight to make you pay your fair share. And fight your union-busting. And fight to break up Big Tech so you’re not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets,” replied Warren.


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