Workers report that today, when the first shift was finished at Amazon and they were going to the company bus to go home, they were interrogated about their possible affiliation in ZSP. All of the workers were asked their names and whether they were members of the union. The workers were told that the company would check the internet for connections.
Currently there are several Amazon workers' groups on the Internet and many workers are using Facebook accounts with their real names to communicate their grievances about the company. Bosses are policing the internet to weed out union members and pro-union workers. Of course we advise people not to take such risks and not to give up names.
The intimidation of the workers is undoubtedly a response to the trouble Amazon has had with angry workers, bad press and labour inspectors. As a result of the campaign of ZSP, dozens of payments had to be made to workers who were shorted or not paid something. For now, the companies involved (Amazon and its agents Manpower and Adecco), have only been paying workers who have fought for what they were owed, but it is probably only the tip of the iceberg. We suspect that many more people are owed money.
Four more workers employed at Amazon through Adecco agency were sent payments. The payments were made for breaks in the working time of 12 and 16 days, equivalent for work clothes/laundry and interest for late payments. We are happy that the agency paid, however we suppose many other workers had similar problems. Unfortunately the agencies do not want to check to see if other workers are entitled, but are only doing so if workers inform them of the problems.
This shows that it is worth organizing yourself and fighting but unfortunately not everybody does this. We will continue to pursue such claims and hope that such problems will not happen in the future.
Better conditions for workers at Amazon NOW!
On January 12, ZSP Multibranch Union protested at Manpower headquarters in Warsaw about the ongoing problems of workers at Amazon employed through that agency, among others. A number of persistent problems have been reported by workers since the fulfillment centers in Sady and Bielany Wroclawskie opened a few months ago.
We spoke to the legal department at Manpower for quite some time about specific cases and noted some additional suggestions for Amazon, such as that they should put the rules for awarding bonuses on paper, so that the criteria is transparent. This representative from Manpower will go to Amazon in two days, check the situation and pass on what we have said. We hope that we can resolve these concrete situations. However we were told that it is not possible to check the situation of all the workers, only the ones who specifically go to them with concrete issues.
Every day more and more interesting things come to light at Amazon. We have seen that some agencies (for example Manpower) have provided workers with explanations of what was taken out of their salaries and which payments they were supposed to have. One of the things put on the pay slip was the equivalent for cleaning work clothes - because the company does not provide uniforms and the workers are entitled to this. Despite the fact that this is noted on the pay slip, workers we spoke to did not receive this.
Another problem is a health and safety problem related to having to manually lug too heavy weights. With the weights they are required to drag around the warehouse, the workers should have forklifts.
These new problems will be brought to the attention of all the parties ASAP.
It has come to the attention of ZSP that in fact, some workers were given two contracts to sign: the first with the date they actually started work, the second with a new date, intended to „evidence” that they started later than they did. Unfortunately for Amazon and its temporary work agencies, Adecco, Manpower, Randstad, BHP training not only must be done during working hours, but also indicates the beginning of the factual labor relationship. We consider the signing of new contracts as an act of deliberate cheating and we will get you all for that.
We have received reports from dozens of workers that they haven't received payment for health and safety training or time when they were employed but given no work. The health and safety training must be conducted after the work contract starts and workers should get paid for time they spend at this training. But many people received nothing for this time. This concerns workers from Randstad, Adecco and Manpower agencies, as well as some workers employed directly at Amazon. According to the law, all health and safety training takes place during working time, so it is paid. (Art. 2373 § 3 of the Labor Code)
Amazon did not give some workers any work for weeks after they started work. This is to be counted like a break in working time from the side of the employer. These breaks were not taken by the workers – they all wanted to work and were ready to work. This time that we were ready to work is also to be paid! This also results from the law. (Art. 81 of the Labor Code). And this payment cannot be less than minimum wage!
We demand this money for everyone, not just those who have noticed this! We will inform all the workers about their rights! No more cheating at Amazon!
ZSP in Amazon
On December 30, ZSP organized a picket at the Adecco headquarters in Warsaw related to outstanding payments owed to a few Amazon workers. The warehouses in Sady and Bielany Wrocławskie hired workers through some agencies, including Adecco. Workers have been complaining that they haven't been receiving their full salaries.
Prior to our visit, we sent Adecco information about people owed salaries. The day before the picket they informed us that they paid 6 workers but on the day of the picket we asked about the others. An hour later, we received copies of statements confirming the money was transferred.
We are glad that Adecco took the appropriate actions to get the workers their pay. We hope they are able to get the money in time to enjoy their New Year.
Afterwards, we also went to Manpower. Some payments are also outstanding from that agency. Unfortunately, that agency is not so quick to act. We visited them two weeks ago and hoped that all payments would be made by now. We will be back there after the New Year with another protest.
Agency Makes some Payments but others are still Waiting
On December 30, ZSP will visit the headquarters of Adecco work agency in Warsaw in an attempt to regulate payments for workers in the Amazon. Workers employed through temporary agencies Adecco and Manpower in Bielany Wroclawskie and Sady warehouses complained that they were not properly paid for their work. Two weeks ago we visited Manpower, who made some payments but there are still outstanding claims of workers from the Sady warehouse. Now we informed Adecco of the problems. On the day before the picket, Adecco contacted us to inform that it paid 6 workers outstanding sums of 500-600 zloties each and that it would make other settlements together with December payments. We will still visit Adecco with a picket and try to ensure these payments are made.
In the meanwhile, workers have agreed some postulates to struggle for in Amazon, to improve working conditions. The union will organize some actions in favour of these demands in the new year.
10.5 hour shifts, one 30 minute unpaid break for lunch. Barely enough time to get to the canteen, eat something quick and get back to work. Not to mention that the food isn't fresh. Half the time we work in the night, from 18:30-5 AM. Many of us travel more than one hour to work. Our bodies cannot adjust to the changing shifts. We miss spending the evenings with our families. We treat this job as something we are stuck with until something better comes along. Almost any job is better.
Work in the fulfillment center is stressful, we are always monitored. There is a lot of physical work. We are exhausted in the first few hours. We cannot take a break to rest our feet. When we get home, we can only collapse.
For all our hard work in the evenings and even on Sunday, we get no extra pay. Workers in Sady get paid more than workers in Bielany Wroclawskie for the same job.
Our comrade did not receive pay for the month of October from the Cucina restaurant in Plonsk. After demanding his salary and not receiving it, we planned to take action. We contacted the restaurant owner and it turned out they would not like to have any actions in front of their established, so the comrade was paid.
This is just another example of how you have to fight against bosses who abuse your rights and not just sit back and wait for them to do the right thing.
We are glad that the situation was settled and we hope that the owner won't try anything like that again!