Amazon’s working conditions and businesses practices have been at the center of conversations in the US for some time. Following controversy over their low wages and backlash from many Americans, Amazon is taking action.
The gargantuan online retailer will now pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour for all American workers.
Criticism of Amazon
Critics of Amazon, like Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, have long taken issue with their low wages. One of Sanders’ more common talking points involves perceived injustice of multi-billion-dollar companies paying employees too little. Sanders argues that a company as successful as Amazon shouldn’t have workers on government assistance programs. Many other commenters have echoed a similar sentiment regarding other successful companies.
Amazon announced they would be raising their minimum wage to $15 per hour on Tuesday. In a statement, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stated, “We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead. We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
Meanwhile, in the UK, Amazon is raising its minimum wage to £9.50 per hour, and £10.50 per hour in London. These numbers put Amazon’s minimum wages just above the line considered a “living wage” in the UK and London.
A Good Start
Sanders, who has been one of Amazon’s most vocal critics, was impressed by the move. In a post on Twitter, he stated, “What Mr. Bezos has done today is not only enormously important for Amazon’s hundreds of thousands of employees, it could well be a shot heard around the world. I urge corporate leaders around the country to follow Mr. Bezos’ lead.”
James Bloodworth, a British journalist and vocal critic of Amazon, tweeted a similar sentiment. “This is good, though a lot more still to do…now stop with the draconian productivity targets and disciplinary policies,” he stated in a tweet.
Amazon’s Working Conditions
Many who have worked in Amazon’s fulfilment centers have described their work as unbelievably physically taxing. The productivity targets Bloodworth mentioned are often tied directly into pay and bonuses. Additionally, the company has a reputation as being very heavy-handed in doling out punishment for missing targets.
However, vocal critics such as Bloodworth and Sanders have made certain to keep Amazon’s policies and wages near the center of the international conversation. If today’s move is any indication, their pressure is having the desired effect. This move is projected to impact more than 350,000 workers who are employed by Amazon.