According to Bloomberg, e-commerce and technology giant Amazon plans to hire 150,000 additional seasonal staffers, about 50 per cent more than last year, as the company “seeks a cushion of workers to help it meet demand during the holiday shopping period.” Looking at the company’s track record when it comes to the way it treats its employees, we couldn’t help but wonder exactly what would happen to this considerable added workforce post the holiday season.
In reality, Amazon typically hires legions of temporary workers this time of year to help store, pack and ship items from its warehouses. And since the COVID-19 pandemic supercharged online shopping last year, Amazon has been ‘forced’ to rapidly expand its logistics operation, opening warehouses or smaller delivery depots in urban areas at a pace of roughly one per day. No, this is not a typo, we checked—one per day.
In September, the company said in a press release that it had already opened 250 US logistics facilities in 2021 and would inaugurate an additional 100 that month alone. Keeping these numbers in mind, it’s nearly impossible for common mortals like us to fully fathom the type of growth Amazon—along with Jeff Bezos’ wallet—is currently experiencing.
On Monday 18 October, the company said in another press release that the average starting pay of its jobs in the US would be $18 an hour. Facing fierce competition for entry-level workers, Amazon has also been offering signing bonuses of as much as $3,000, depending on the location, as well as an additional $3 per hour for workers willing to work overnight or weekend shifts. In other words, it is desperate for more employees, pronto.
As the second-largest private US employer after Walmart, it employed 1.3 million people at the end of June 2021. This time last year, the company said it would hire about 100,000 seasonal workers. That’s a sharp uptick to say the least, and it doesn’t come without any consequences. Amazon Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Brian Olsavsky told analysts and investors, after the company’s second-quarter (Q2) earnings report in July 2021, that the competitive labour market is leading to higher costs.
As mentioned above, the company has been on a hiring spree since the start of the pandemic—bringing on a whopping 500,000 employees in 2020 alone. Heck, it was so desperate for a larger workforce, it even tried to fix its delivery driver shortage by recruiting stoners.
All that being said, temporary or not, in the past, Amazon workers have been vocal about the company’s mistreatment of its employees—or at least they have tried to be vocal about it. And this is where the somewhat controversial argument comes in: we must all assume responsibility for our part in perpetuating this cycle of abuse in order to actively support efforts to hold Amazon accountable. One cannot come without the other.