- John Oliver ran a segment on Sunday’s "Last Week Tonight" criticising the working conditions in Amazon warehouses and other logistics centers.
- Oliver said Amazon’s success was built on "creating a system that squeezes the people lowest on the ladder hard."
- Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of operations, tweeted that Oliver was "wrong on Amazon."
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An Amazon executive has railed against a segment on John Oliver’s "Last Week Tonight" criticising the company.
During his HBO show on Sunday, Oliver took aim at the "brutal" working conditions inside Amazon warehouses, or fulfillment centers as the company calls them.
"The more you look at Amazon, the more you realise its convenience comes with a real cost," said Oliver.
"Because, think about it, we used to have to drive to stores to buy things. Now those things are brought directly to us and they’re somehow cheaper. That didn’t just happen with a clever algorithm, it happened by creating a system that squeezes the people lowest on the ladder hard and all the while, the man behind Amazon is now worth $118 billion, more than anyone else in the world."
Oliver honed in on reports of Amazon’s union-busting tactics, the physical drain on its workers, and the level of control management exerts over employees — including closely monitoring bathroom breaks.
"When people shorten their time in the bathroom, they don’t shorten the bathroom part, they shorten the hand-washing part so the next time you order something online, it’s safe to assume that it’s been packed by urine-soaked hands," said Oliver.
The following day, Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of operations, voiced his objections to Oliver’s rant, saying he was "wrong on Amazon."
Clark touted the $15 minimum wage introduced by the company last year, said it operates a "safe, quality work environment," and that John Oliver and his producers had declined an invitation to take a tour of a warehouse.
This isn’t the first time Amazon has publicly bristled against a public figure’s characterization of the company. Amazon’s official account tweeted that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was "just wrong" after she accused it and CEO Jeff Bezos of systematically underpaying workers.
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