Should We Be Boycotting Amazon Prime Day?

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We're about half way though Australia's first Amazon Prime Day and there have been plenty of good deals on offer. But in the midst of the offers made by Amazon and its partners, there's another aspect we ought to consider.

Warehouse workers across Europe are on strike, protesting the company's treatment of staff in fulfilment centres. These allegations have dogged Amazon for some time, not just in Europe but also in the US. Should we skip Prime Day and support these workers?

A detailed report at Forbes goes through the allegations made against Amazon. These include

  • Long hours without compensation
  • Poor working conditions including very hot environments
  • Having ambulances on hand rather than pay for air conditioning
  • Being forced to skip bathroom breaks
  • No opportunity to negotiate for better conditions
  • Dodging taxes

And last week, when I looked at purchasing ethical technology, I noted that Amazon was ranked at the bottom of 15 companies analysed by Greenpeace.

In short, the allegations made against Amazon are very troubling.

Jeff Bezos, the founder and leader of Amazon is quoted as saying "Your margin is my opportunity". In other words, he's looking for every possible opportunity to undercut his competition to beat them on price.

One way he can reduce costs is by managing his staff "efficiently". That means using fewer people to do more work while paying them less. If the allegations are true, it also means curtailing access to bathrooms to get even more out of workers. It's cost cutting initiatives like this that make Amazon's prices lower than other retailers.

Faced with this mounting case, I think we should all pause and consider whether shopping at Amazon and saving a few dollars is really the most ethical thing we can do. I'm not saying a boycott is right or wrong - only you can make that decision for yourself. But I do think, that faced with all the information on hand, it's worth taking a breath and deciding if the allegations ring true and whether that demands we change our behaviour and take our shopping dollars elsewhere.


Comments

    I agree with your sentiment thinking before spending or not spending your dollars with a business that you know is unethical. People make this decision everyday based on how they are treated , they will also do it because of how their employees are treated but it is rarer as they are often unaware.

    What troubles me with your story is you talk about allegations, and " if the allegations ring true" but "faced with all the information on hand" you also suggest that people decide on their shopping behaviour. I think we should base your decisions on facts, rather than allegations. So are they facts or allegations?

    Don't get me wrong, these stories about conditions at Amazon are not new. They are also numerous and widespread so one would think that where there is smoke there is fire. Wouldn't it be better if you highlighted from your research instances where these practises were proven or prosecuted. It would certainly add weight to a call for a boycott.

    Many of these practises would appear to be illegal. Others if they aren't should be, so its points to a wider problem. Laws are not always enforced, and labour laws notoriously so, even in Australia.

    So I guess what troubles me is asking people to boycott a business based on allegations. It would be different if you were reporting the allegations and the protests, but you are advocating a boycott. Today its Amazon tomorrow its ... If you have facts please share them.

    How successful is Amazon in Australia? When I check their prices against local retailers they don't compare well. So using your logic they are not managing their staff "efficiently" in Australia. Have there been any complaints by employees in Australia?

    It may sound like I am defending Amazon's alleged behaviour, I'm not. A consumer boycott can certainly be effective, but please present facts not allegations before advocating vigilante consumerism, or any other call to arms.

    This is what happens when you want to be the cheapest. You cut corners to do it. There aren't any winners. He just gets richer. I give him credit for what he is achieved but what he has done to achieve it is the problem. From big businesses shutting down as they cant compete to working conditions people have to work in. People don't like sweatshops or poor working conditions but if you told them that the sweatshops would disappear and working conditions would improve dramatically but it would mean an increase in prices, there would be an uproar. You can't have it both ways. It's not just Amazon, it happens with the supermarkets and elsewhere with places that are focused on price and nothing else. In Australia, they haven't made a big dent as they planned to but it's Amazon who have billions at their disposal which is worrying what they will do to achieve that same status in Aus as they do elsewhere.

    Last edited 17/07/18 9:13 am

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