The person posting the video can be seen packing and taping up boxes as a supervisor's voice booms over the intercom.
There have been countless reports of Amazon workers complaining of poor work conditions, which included some being forced into peeing in bottles. A new video on TikTok shows workers at the Amazon warehouse being warned that they were getting off work one minute before the scheduled time. People on the internet were horrified that workers were being admonished through what sounds like an intercom for leaving a minute before for their break. The video and the voice are as dystopian as you'd imagine them to be—an announcement via intercom reminding people that they couldn't slack off because they had one more productive minute left.
There are a lot of horrible conditions at Amazon warehouses that we all know about, but this TikTok of workers being admonished for packing up a station one minute early seems to be shocking people just the same. The video was posted by an alleged Amazon worker who goes by @amazonassociatef1. Most of the videos are centered on the work culture at the warehouse and this video is no different, showing the person mechanically packing and taping up boxes as a supervisor admonishes everyone through the intercom system. “It is 9:59. Not 10 o’clock guys,” the person on the intercom can be heard saying. “If you are on your way to break you are getting TOT as we speak,” they add. TOT is the acronym for “time off task," which Daily Dot reports means that Amazon will consider that 'one minute' as a break and choose not to compensate you for it.
The video sparked a debate online with some arguing that the company was entitled to ask workers to continue toiling for the one scheduled minute while others said it was time for Amazon to unionize. One TikToker commented, "Imagine defending Amazon," while another wrote, "Hey! We moved sweatshops to the US... good on you Bezos. Putting America first. Another person simply added, "Y'all need a union."
The working conditions at Amazon have always been a source of controversy. Earlier this year, the company apologized for claiming none of its workers urinate in bottles. The company's official account had attempted to counter Congressperson Mark Pocan's claim that Amazon made workers urinate in water bottles. "You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us. The truth is that we have over a million incredible employees around the world who are proud of what they do, and have great wages and health care from day one," wrote the official account. Pocan responded, "Yes, I do believe your workers. You don't?"
The replies showed countless news reports of Amazon workers stating that they were forced to pee in bottles during work hours. After many reports pointed to the same and an internal email revealing that the company was aware of the same, the company was forced to apologize. The internal document published by Intercept showed internal Amazon documents chiding workers for "public urination" and "public defecation," while another worker received an email from management telling drivers to check their vans for "urine bottles" and to report such "infractions."
And yes, I do believe your workers.— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) March 25, 2021
Pocan rejected their apology and asked them to provide better working conditions. "Sigh. This is not about me, this is about your workers — who you don't treat with enough respect or dignity. Start by acknowledging the inadequate working conditions you've created for ALL your workers, then fix that for everyone, and finally, let them unionize without interference," he tweeted.
In March 2020, Chris Smalls, a former Amazon warehouse assistant manager, was fired for organizing a walkout to protest the poor working conditions that made workers susceptible to coronavirus, reported CBS News. He said that workers "are tracked down to the second" and added that workers found it hard to use the bathroom as they have to often walk 5-10 minutes to reach the bathroom during their 15-minute break. Managers would write them up if they extended their break time, eventually leading to them being fired.