Why I’ve Stopped Using Amazon: Hired by James Bloodworth

Hired

I popped over to Southwold a few weeks ago with my gorgeous friend Anna (who runs an Etsy shop here) and we happened upon a lovely little bookshop. I had thought that it was an independent shop but it was a Waterstones in disguise (is it me or are lots of places like this now? Perhaps it’s the only way bookshops can stay alive).

I don’t know what it was about Hired that made me buy it, but within a few moments I’d picked it from the display, glanced over the back and then bought it.

Hired, by James Bloodworth has been a life-changing book. Not because it’s a self help book, not because it’s given me new purpose in life, but because it has shown me a life I hadn’t seen. It’s allowed me to see things from another’s perspective.

James spent 6 months living in various places, working in low wage jobs. He works in a call centre in Wales, as a carer in Blackpool, an Uber driver in London. And in an Amazon warehouse.

Of course, we all know that Amazon warehouses employ people who have no other option, who are treated really badly. But I didn’t quite understand how badly people are treated there. It was a sort of “well, at least they have jobs, even if they are crap” kind of thing, but it was a revelation to read James’ account of wages not coming through, of peeing in bottles as the toilets are just too far away, of workers being treated with the same amount of caution as prisoners.

The other chapters in the book were still good (I particularly appreciated his call centre journey, giving great detail into the mining industry that has dried up, and that people are not keen to take on call centre work even though it’s much safer) but it really is the Amazon section of the book that had me gripped.

There’s a small element of that this treatment of workers would have gone on unnoticed if it was still Eastern European people working there, and that we’re only talking about this now because a British person has experienced it. However, now that I know that this is happening, I want to play my part in making sure that this stops.

James very kindly responded to me on Twitter and gave me a couple of organisations (mainly this one) that are fighting for workers’ rights. But I have decided to stop buying from Amazon from now on.

Amazon has become such a commonplace convenience. It’s almost like a habit I need to break; every time I think about something I need to buy, my fingers reach to my phone to get it on Amazon. A few clicks and it’s on its way over to me.

We get annoyed at generation z for wanting everything instantly, for not understanding the beauty in working for something. They think that they don’t need to try in life because they can just use the internet to get money. That Siri will bring everything they need right to them.

But it’s us who have made this so. We have created this world of convenience and clicks that makes things cheaper and our lives easier. This convenience comes at the detriment to the people who work behind the scenes.

On the top level in Amazon there are so many amazing things happening, and I am so happy to see them investing time and money into education projects. In my previous job, they worked as a partner to our STEM outreach programme and hosted events where students could look around.

But not every student is going to be a scientist. A coder. A problem solver. Some students will be working in warehouses. And I want to make sure that no matter where students end up, they are treated with dignity and respect, are paid fairly for their time and efforts, and have a reasonable amount of job satisfaction.

With that in mind, I will stop using Amazon. It’s a small act; no one is going to say “what? Charlotte’s stopped shopping here? CHANGE EVERYTHING!!” I know that.

But I would like to encourage you to firstly read Hired (go to your local bookshop!!) and then to join me in breaking the chain of convenience and help support Amazon workers.

Together, we can make change.

Trackbacks

  1. […] With libraries dying all the time (I confess, I’ve not stepped inside one for years. I wouldn’t even know where my nearest is) it’s still possible for people to access reading materials for just a few pounds in places like WH Smith. And that’s without resorting to Amazon (which, you may remember, I do not use anymore). […]

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