Amazon announces wage rises for employees, but we’re still sceptical

Amazon has announced that it is increasing the base salary cap for employees from $160,000 to $350,000 as a result of a competitive labour market.

At Happy Mag, we’ve learned to take press releases and grand statements by multi-national corporations such as Amazon with a grain of salt. We’ll admit – we’re a bit sceptical.

While Amazon has said that wage rise will apply to most jobs globally, it remains to be seen how many and who exactly will receive the pay bump.

Amazon pickup and returns.
Image coutesy: Unsplash.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has struggled to retain and hire employees. During the early months of the pandemic, the turnover rate inside Amazon for front-line workers in retail and warehousing in the US was more than double the industry average. A high turnover rate has plagued all levels of the company. A record 50 vice presidents departed last year.

Call us cynical, but the move appears more an attempt to rectify Amazon’s poor PR record, market the company as socially-conscious and ensure long-term prosperity and profits than a humanitarian move to look out for workers.

This is a company with a history of union-busting, a tendency to enforce distressingly-high performance targets and a poor track record of worker safety and environmental care. Amazon is hardly popular at the moment among those with a moral conscience.

The GMB union, for instance, has accused Amazon of treating UK warehouse staff like robots and forcing pregnant women to work beyond their means. In 2018, a Freedom of Information request from the union revealed that ambulance services had been called to one particular Amazon warehouse 600 times in three years – an abnormally high rate when compared to similarly-sized warehouses in the vicinity.

Recently, the startlingly common practice of Amazon workers peeing in bottles due to inadequate break time has gone viral.

Whether or not we would pee in a bottle for $350,000 is beside the point… We want more details on this seemingly good news.

Our fingers are crossed that the next Amazon-related headline mentions something about the 1.6 million people employed being able to go to the toilet whenever they want.