You know you work in a toxic environment when staff members have to pee in bottles because the nearest bathroom is hundreds of yards away and they "fear getting into trouble for taking too long away from the job."

But would you expect that coming from Amazon employees? Well, actually, you might. 

In 2015, the New York Times reported that Amazon warehouse employees are "monitored by sophisticated electronic systems to ensure they are packing enough boxes every hour." Citing one unfortunate incident back in 2011, Pennsylvania warehouse workers "toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away laborers as they fell. After a local newspaper conducted an investigation, Amazon conceded and finally installed air-conditioning.

Now Amazon is under fire again, this time in the UK. Several reports allege that Amazon fulfillment center employees, under threat of penalties for extended breaks and without nearby bathrooms, are forced to urinate in bottles.

Undercover worker reveals abusive working conditions

The whistleblower, James Bloodworth, went undercover and took a job at the fulfillment center in Staffordshire while writing a book to research low wages in the UK.

According to his claims, as reported in The Sun, impossible productivity targets, a strict break policy, and toilets located several floors away led to drastic measures for workers. When you gotta go, you gotta go ... in a bottle, even.

Adding fuel to the fire, 241 Amazon warehouse employees recently participated in an independent employee survey compiled by the UK worker campaign platform Organise. This is where it gets interesting.

The results, released on Monday, stated that 74 percent of respondents were scared of taking a traditional bathroom break, citing fear of missing their target.

The survey anonymously quoted several employees blaming Amazon for abusive management practices. Among them:

"[Targets] have increased dramatically. I do not drink water​ because I do not have time to go to the toilet."

"The target grows every year. I do not have two more legs yet to make the 100 percent to pick, where you actually need to run and go to the toilet just during the break. Packing 120 products per hour is terribly heavy."

"Targets are twice as much as they were before, people give their all and by that I mean even their lives. Several people died in BHX1 (a warehouse), and hundreds more collapsed during work."

One woman six months pregnant said, "[T]hey don't care, they say [I] still have to hit my target. Sometimes [it's] worse than a prison."

Amazon disputes the allegations

Since there are two sides to every story, Amazon has responded and refuted all allegations. In a statement to CNET, a spokesperson said:

"Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace for thousands of people across the UK with competitive pay and benefits from day one. We have not been provided with confirmation that the people who completed the survey worked at Amazon and we don't recognize these allegations as an accurate portrayal of activities in our buildings."

Additionally, the statement read, "Amazon ensures all of its associates have easy access to toilet facilities which are just a short walk from where they are working."

Published on: Apr 19, 2018