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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 July 25 - 31  > Workers exploited under Amazon’s glory (Part 1)
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2018 July 25 - 31 TOP3 [LABOR]

Workers exploited under Amazon’s glory (Part 1)

July 29, 2018
Jeff Bezos, founder of the leading e-commerce retailer Amazon, was ranked number one in the 2018 Forbes list of billionaires. His assets are said to amount to 112 billion dollars (about 11.9 trillion yen). In a series of articles, Akahata will lay bare the fact that workers are being grossly exploited behind Amazon’s glory.

Located in residential areas in Kanagawa’s Odawara City, roughly a 1.5-hour train trip from central Tokyo, is a huge five-story building measuring 200,000 square meters in area. It is the Amazon Odawara fulfillment center (FC), Amazon’s largest warehousing and shipping facility in Japan. Starting its operation in September 2013, the facility stocks a wide variety of goods, such as books, CDs, home appliances, and kitchen tools, which are shipped to Amazon customers.

Okawa Akira recently quit his job at the Odawara FC. This man in his 40s was assigned to a job carrying ordered items from shelves to the shipment spot in the facility. He wheeled around a cart laden with cartons full of shipments.

“My co-workers one after another resigned after they suffered from heat strokes, fatigue fractures, back pains, and other injuries and illnesses. Me too. I’ve suffered from tendon problems in my fingers,” said Okawa.

Since the facility was established three years ago, three workers have died under sweatshop-like working conditions.

“As expected deaths occurred,” “Tomorrow, it might be me” attitude had spread among workers. Okawa said “With working conditions being so harsh, even healthy workers are worried about risks to their health.”

In response to an Akahata inquiry, Amazon Japan has insisted that the three workers’ death are not work-related. The online giant’s Japan subsidiary explained to Akahata that the company had reported the three workers’ death to the labor standard inspection authorities, but received no response from the authorities and no claim for workers’ compensation benefits from the bereaved families of the three workers. Amazon Japan refused to tell Akahata the causes of the three workers’ deaths by saying that that is personal information. However, the company admitted to the fact that many workers suffered from heat strokes, stress fractures, and other injuries and illnesses as Okawa pointed out.
(To be continued)
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