November 18, 2022

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Amazon surveillance technology does track productivity but is not “primary focus”

Amazon’s Head of Public Policy for Europe tells parliamentary select committee that surveillance tech does track employee productivity but is not “primary focus”.

Giving evidence at a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee on Tuesday (15 November) Brian Palmer, Amazon’s Head of Public Policy for Europe, admitted that the technology was being used to track staff productivity.

However, during the hearing, Palmer had previously claimed that surveillance of workers was not the “primary focus” of the monitoring systems.

The Bristol Post recently reported the case of a 63-year-old worker put on a final warning after the tracking system deemed his work too slow. Committee Chair, Darren Jones, citing the incident, pushed Palmer, “Do you track productivity of your workers in the warehouses? yes or No?,” the MP for Bristol North West asked.

Palmer responded, “Yes.”

An Amazon distribution hub in Milton Keynes ©Tom Holt/Alamy

He also confirmed a ‘three strikes and out’ policy exists, however, the “number of performance-related folks that leave the company is a very small minority, that is not where we focus. If there are issues where someone is having performance-related issues, we want to understand why and how we can help them”.

Palmer added that conversations involving management and HR and the employee would also be implemented and, if possible, another role in the company to suit their skills would be looked at.

Commenting on the hearing, GMB’s Head of Research, said: “GMB members in Amazon have said for years that constant monitoring and punishing targets are leading to injuries and making many lives a misery. Now the company has finally admitted the problem, it’s time to address it.”

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