“It simply came to our notice then. The first few weeks you will feel it in your legs. When I started in Toronto, I was driving 20km a day. I worked hard and I’m an ex-soldier, imagine! ”
This was one of the first warnings issued by manager Joseph *, a former NATO soldier, for appointments at the Amazon distribution center in Lachine.
This is where I worked in anonymity for five weeks, this experience is described in the documentary, Amazon’s reverse, Broadcast on Club Illico.
- Listen to journalist Dominic Cambron-Goulette with Pierre Nantel
Each working day begins with a series of preparations in front of the computer screen.
Listening to Joseph *, I thought this work would shape me. But a few days later, I realized that my body, like most of my Amazon companions, was suffering.
“Half of yesterday, I’m not feeling my shoulder anymore,” Bachar * tells me over the weekend of Black Friday, perhaps the busiest time of the year for Amazon.
- Listen to Claire Bourgate, Director of the Academy of Digital Transformation
Like many warehouse workers, Fareed *, a newcomer, complained that “my back and neck were damaged.”
At Amazon, all the positions on the floor are physical in their own way, but that Picker – Picker – very laborious due to its repetition.
Unlike Joseph *, I do not have to walk many kilometers a day to do this work. Lachine warehouse is very automated, so everything is done in two square meters.
Robots (shelves mounted on small vehicles) are transported to my workstation for packaging so that the computer tells me to put the products in a box or shelf.
I need to do this small operation at least every 12 seconds or 2,500 times a day. If I want to be at the top of the goal window, I have to complete it almost 3,500 times.
“I can cancel my gym membership,” joked my colleague Kevin.
The same muscles are used constantly. Although the computer prescribed stretch to do every morning, I often have stiffness in my neck, shoulders and forearms. The same as my colleagues are complaining about.
There are two 30-minute breaks in the 10 and a half hour day, but this is the end Change It rarely happens.
My legs often tingle in the middle of the afternoon. I bend my knees to pick up another cast iron pan at the bottom of the shelf. My protective shoes feel too heavy to climb on my stepladder.
But on the other side of my post, robots are not slowing down. And my performance continues to be part of my file.
Amazon management has been widely criticized in Canada and the United States for the risks associated with COVID.
Lack of communication with employees has been particularly criticized.
“We have been in contact with colleagues who have been infected with the virus and are absent from work. When we told our superiors, they denied that there were any cases, ”recalled Sean * Spring 2020, a New York employee.
Workers at his distribution center went on strike because they were not well protected. Some protesters were fired.
After my shift, I will learn via text in Lachine that two colleagues have contracted to COVID-19.
The message says “Additional Verified Cases”, but I have not been notified of any cases before. Three days later, a message indicates that the third employee is infected.
Even by questioning my coworker Enrique * about his absence, I learned that 14 days after his wife became infected with the virus, he had to isolate himself.
When I arrived in Lachine at the end of October, there were a number of health measures, such as temperature and dutiful masking.
In addition, the manager, Joseph *, says that the “400 cameras” help fight COVID, by counting the length of time employees have been within six feet of each other.
The software records this misconduct on a daily basis.
The screens in the corridors and in the living room I know if I am too far away from my colleagues, with the help of the green circle around me.
But the presence of these cameras does not guarantee good driving. In the locker room, there is sometimes uncomfortable proximity.
Most employees do not wear masks on the nose and this worries some of my colleagues. Some even go so far as to write on the comments board to alert the employer.
Inspectors from the Equity, Health and Safety Standards Commission visited before Amazon opened, which we learned after accessing the information request.
* Names are fictitious
Amazon employee or ex-employee? Do you have any information? Contact our journalist in private: [email protected] Or at 514 257-1431.