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Newton – Amazon: Are worker-related issues at a tipping point?

With the online retailer’s working practices under scrutiny, we assess the facts and outline our engagement approach. 

Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world. It is estimated that for every one dollar spent online in the US, around 37 cents goes to Amazon. However, many critics believe this has come at a cost – both to Amazon workers and taxpayers. While Amazon’s approach to tax is notorious, in this case study we focus specifically on the reputational, financial and operational risk posed by Amazon’s management of its low-wage workforce in its fulfilment centres. 

Amazon’s fulfilment centres now total over 175 globally (100+ in North America), with 250,000 employees working in them. With more shoppers swapping bricks-and-mortar stores for online, warehouse jobs like the ones offered by Amazon are said to represent the future of work. 

While it seems the consumer is happy to ignore the sometimes graphic reports of poor worker treatment, there are increasing signs from politicians and the workforce itself that Amazon’s current practices may be unsustainable.

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