New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


A belated discovery

by New Worker correspondent

ONLINE retailing giant Amazon “treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential. Only that’s not just Amazon, it’s how 21st-century capitalism is done”. That is not a quote from an article in the Raving Anarchist Weekly but the view of an Amazon insider, and not just a disgruntled warehouse worker but a Vice President of Amazon who composed these remarks as his swansong.

He is Tim Bray, a co-author of the original specification for the XML mark-up language, whose post was due to his being a “distinguished engineer” for Amazon Web Services for which he remains proud.

He finally quit in protest at “Amazon firing whistle-blowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of COVID-19”. He had previously been one of the 8,702 employees who signed a protest letter calling for action from the company on the global climate emergency.

Another case he cited was that of two software designers who were fired in April as punishment for being involved in Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ). Bray said that: “Remaining a VP would, however, mean effectively signing off on the activities. So I resigned.”

All this appears to be something of a revelation to Bray. He once said of Amazon: “It treats its’ workers humanely, strives for work/life balance, struggles to move the diversity needle, and is by and large an ethical organisation,” but added that: “Anyone who’s unhappy can walk across the street and get another job paying the same or better.”

Clearly he has not read the New Worker or similar papers. Christmas 2016 this paper reported that some workers were reduced to living in tents near Amazon’s distribution centre in Dunfermline in Fife because of a combination of a 60-hour week and low pay. Nor does Bray object to Amazon’s tax dodging practices such as pretending to base its British operations in Luxembourg to avoid taxation. Better late than never.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has done well by increasing his personal fortune by $24 billion since he is able to carry on trading whilst high street shops are shut and developing his cloud computing business.