Working at an Amazon warehouse in the U.K., James Bloodworth came across a bottle of straw-colored liquid on a shelf. It looked like pee.
How could he be sure? “I smelt it,” said the 35-year-old British journalist and author, talking about his new book “Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain.” It was definitely pee, he said.
As he tells it, urinating into a bottle is the kind of desperation Amazon forces its warehouse workers into as they try to avoid accusations of “idling” and failing to meet impossibly high productivity targets — ones they are continually measured against by Big Brother-ish type surveillance.
It didn’t help that the nearest bathroom to where he worked was four flights of stairs below.
Bloodworth’s grim picture of Amazon’s blue-collar workplaces — he compares the warehouse he worked in, alternately, to a prison and a totalitarian state — is bringing new attention to the company’s treatment of its workers. Out in the U.K. since March, and just appearing in this country, “Hired” sparked a flurry of reviews in the British press and some American coverage as well.