- A British union has highlighted working conditions at Amazon warehouses over Christmas with a satirical whack-a-mole-style game.
- The game was created by the GMB union, one of the biggest workers’ unions in the UK.
- The game makes the player furiously click on packages while showing pop-up messages which refer to damning media and GMB reports about Amazon’s working practices.
- Amazon responded that if people want to find out what it’s like to work in its warehouses they are welcome to take a tour, rather than play a “fictitious computer game.”
British workers’ union the GMB has laid into Amazon’s working practices at Christmas with a satirical online game resembling “whack-a-mole.”
The game asks players to click on packages as they pop up, which gradually become impossibly fast to keep up with. You can play “Workers not Robots” yourself by clicking here.
Occasionally messages flash up such as “Time for a toilet break – actually… here’s a bottle, no time for proper breaks here.” This is a reference to a report from an undercover UK journalist James Bloodworth who claims he found a bottle of urine while working inside an Amazon warehouse. Amazon has disputed Bloodworth’s reporting as false.
The game takes particular aim at CEO and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos. At one point a caricatured image of him pops up demanding that the player “pick faster!”
Finally the player is informed that they have been carted off in an ambulance. This is a reference to a report published by the GMB in May, after an FOI request to ambulance services in the UK revealed that over the past three years 600 ambulances were called out to 14 Amazon warehouses.
The GMB compared emergency callouts between a single Amazon warehouse in Rugeley, near Birmingham, with a similarly sized and staffed supermarket distribution center nearby. There were 115 ambulance callouts to the Amazon warehouse, compared to eight for the supermarket.
As a coda the game asks the player to “show Bezos” by sharing the website with friends and, if they purchase anything from Amazon, to leave product reviews asking Bezos to recognise the GMB.
The union has been a frequent critic of Amazon’s working conditions. It has organised multiple protests of Amazon warehouses, including protests that coincided with warehouse worker strikes across Europe on Black Friday.
In response to the game, an Amazon spokeswoman said:
“We love an app as much as the next lot – but the only robots in our buildings are the ones helping our well paid, highly appreciated associates deliver for customers. If you want to see what it is really like to work inside our fulfilment centres you don’t need to download a fictitious computer game – come take a tour.”
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