Jeff Bezos unveils robotic plan to keep Amazon workers working, claims they aren’t treated like robots

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in his final letter to shareholders as CEO that the e-commerce giant has got to “do a far better job for our employees.” The letter comes amid ongoing reports of untenable conditions for Amazon workers. And it outlines a technique that seems odd for a corporation that has been accused of treating workers like robots: a robotic scheme which will develop new staffing schedules using an algorithm.

Bezos pushed back on the thought that, consistent with news reports, Amazon doesn’t look after its employees. “In those reports, our employees are sometimes accused of being desperate souls and treated as robots. That’s not accurate,” he wrote.

To address concerns about working conditions, Bezos said the corporate will develop new staffing schedules “that use sophisticated algorithms to rotate employees among jobs that use different muscle-tendon groups to decrease repetitive motion and help protect employees from MSD risks.” The technology will roll out throughout 2021, he said.

In addition to giving a nod to working conditions at Amazon, the letter is that the first time Bezos has publicly addressed the failed union drive at its Bessemer, Alabama plant. “Does your Chair take comfort within the outcome of the recent union choose Bessemer? No, he doesn’t,” Bezos wrote. “I think we’d like to try to to a far better job for our employees. While the voting results were lopsided and our direct relationship with employees is robust , it’s clear to me that we’d like a far better vision for a way we create value for workers – a vision for his or her success.”

Amazon issued a rare public apology earlier this month, after it had been caught publicly lying to Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) that its workers haven’t ever had to pee in water bottles to satisfy their work demands. this is often a well-documented issue at Amazon due to how it robotically tracks and fires workers. An Amazon worker told Motherboard as recently as late March that loo breaks (or the shortage of) were still a drag . “You’re sitting there and you’ve got to travel take a piss, but you don’t want to rack up ‘time off task,’” the worker said. additionally , Amazon is facing a lawsuit over workers’ missed lunch breaks.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and emporium Union that led the Bessemer unionization drive, said during a statement Thursday that the impact of the union drive, no matter the result , has been “devastating” for Amazon’s reputation.

“We have initiated a worldwide debate about the way Amazon treats its employees,” Appelbaum wrote. “Bezos’s admission today demonstrates that what we’ve been saying about workplace conditions is correct. But his admission won’t change anything, workers need a union – not just another Amazon PR effort in control .”