Amazon apologises for tweet denying workers need to urinate in bottles

Amazon has apologised for a tweet it sent to a US politician more than a week ago denying the company’s employees work so hard they must urinate in empty water bottles.

The company also admitted that some delivery drivers might have had to urinate in bottles. And it vowed to improve their working conditions.

“Peeing in bottles”

The matter was first raised on 24 March by Wisconsin Representative Mark Poca. He responded to a tweet by an Amazon executive that said the company was a progressive workplace.

Pocan said in his tweet:

Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles

Amazon responded:

You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.

In a blog post on Friday 2 April, Amazon apologised to Pocan. The company acknowledged that delivery drivers “can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes”.

The online shopping giant said coronavirus (Covid-19) has made the issue worse, since many public restrooms are closed.

“Sigh,” Pocan responded in a tweet on 3 April. He added:

This is not about me, this is about your workers—who you don’t treat with enough respect or dignity.

Treatment of workers

Amazon wrote in its blog post that urinating in bottles is an industry-wide problem. To try and prove its point, it shared links to news articles about drivers for other delivery companies who have had to do so.

 

Amazon’s treatment of workers has attracted criticism for some time. The company is currently facing the biggest union push in its history at an Alabama warehouse.

Organisers there are pushing for more break time and better pay. And many are complaining about the back-breaking 10-hour workdays that include only two 30-minute breaks.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

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