Amazon surveillance systems independently select workers to be laid off

The Verge published an excerpt from the report of the US National Labor Relations Council, which shows that between August 2017 and September 2018, the Amazon branch in Baltimore laid off 300 warehouse workers. The decision to dismiss was made not by managers, but by an automatic system for monitoring the implementation of production processes. Simply put, a robot overseer, designed to keep track of which employee and how much time is wasted.

Under pressure from the media, Amazon admitted - yes, such a system is actively used. And not only in warehouses, but also on packaging lines, to monitor company truck drivers, etc. But journalists misinterpret the fact that robots independently prepare recommendations for the dismissal of workers. In any case, the final decision remains with the head of the department, that is, the person. And this usually means that a sluggish employee who is not able to meet the standards is sent for retraining, and not on the street.

At the same time, Amazon does not deny that all employees are notified of the norms for performing tasks and that non-compliance with them threatens to be fired. There are norms for rest - in particular, automation measures how many seconds who spent in the toilet, sitting on a chair or just standing idle at the workplace. And then he calculates how effectively the individual manages time and decides on the appropriateness of his work in the company.

Formally, everything is within the framework of the law, but in practice, ordinary Amazon employees say they feel a sense of constant pressure. They know about watching them, but have no idea how the automation will interpret their behavior. There is only one clear criterion - not to be late with the completion of a specific task, and for this it is desirable to have at least some margin of time. Because of which, many, including drivers behind the wheel, try to speed up all their actions, going beyond the limits of acceptable safety.