Amazon offers rare apology over drivers ‘peeing in bottles’

San Francisco: Amazon has issued a rare apology regarding allegations over exploitative working conditions at its facilities, including forcing exhausted workers to ‘pee in bottles’, saying that the company will look for solutions to resolve such situations.

The company said late on Friday that this is a long-standing, industry-wide issue and is not specific to Amazon.

“Regardless of the fact that this is industry-wide, we would like to solve it. We don’t yet know how, but will look for solutions. We will continue to speak out when misrepresented, but we will also work hard to always be accurate,” the company said in a statement.

Earlier, amid a mounting evidence of allegedly ill-treating its low-paid workers, Amazon had denied exploitative working conditions at its facilities.

Replying to a tweet from US Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI), the e-commerce behemoth said last week that the company’s union-busting tactics allegations are baseless.

“Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,” Pocan said in a tweet.

Amazon replied: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us. The truth is that we have over a million incredible employees around the world who are proud of what they do, and have great wages and health care from day one.”

“We hope you can enact policies that get other employers to offer what we already do,” the company further stated.

Amazon has now issued a rare apology to Pocan.

“First, the tweet was incorrect. It did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centres,” Amazon said.

“Second, our process was flawed. The tweet did not receive proper scrutiny. We need to hold ourselves to an extremely high accuracy bar at all times, and that is especially so when we are criticising the comments of others,” the company added.

“This was an own-goal, we’re unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan”.

The Twitter war started over Amazon’s tweet last week and several journalists and people who have documented such incidents at Amazon facilities began flooding the Web.

Journalist James Bloodworth, whose 2018 book titled ‘Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain,’ documented his experience of low-paid work for companies including Amazon.

“I was the person who found the pee in the bottle. Trust me, it happened,” Bloodworth responded to Amazon tweet.

Lauren Kaori Gurley, a labor reporter with Motherboard tweeted: “As a labor reporter who covers Amazon extensively…I can say Amazon delivery drivers not having a time or place to pee is one of the most universal concerns I hear about.”

The Intercept published a report, citing formal policy documents and emails from Amazon, detailing “more cases of drivers urinating into bottles” and even resorting to “defecating into bags”.

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