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Old 03-14-2013, 08:39 AM   #61
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That includes things like earning respect from your employer by respecting your employer and exhibiting responsibility. In other words, you do your job efficiently rather than goofing off.
I spent an entire summer at my first job verifying serial numbers on shipping containers for our product. (90+ degree temp, 90% humidity, minimum)
It seems the line workers had stencilled one serial number on one side and a different number on the other, and the logs often had a third. Often, the actual product S/N had nothing to do with the container or the log.

Took two engineers (fresh outs, to minimize the damage) for two whole months to set the record straight. It turned out that the QA teams of two whose job was to verify the assembly work before he containers were sealed would take turns, one slept in the morning, the other in the afternoon. They got transfered to a different assembly line but they coudn't be fired (for the usual reason).

After a (highly educational) year I found a new job away from manufacturing, in R&D.

Assembly line work is simply not fun for anybody. Strictly business.

As the joke goes; "If it was fun it wouldn't be work. And they would expect you to pay instead of being paid."
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:52 PM   #62
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I have mixed feelings on statements like that, since the "having a job" line is often used to justify a race to the bottom. People should be able to find work that offers a living wage and where the employer treats them as human.

That being said, I've also encountered many people who seem to want too much out of their work. A living wage is just that: you can afford to live. Likewise, being treated as human also means that you are behaving human. That includes things like earning respect from your employer by respecting your employer and exhibiting responsibility. In other words, you do your job efficiently rather than goofing off.
I agree. A living wage is just that and you do have to do things to work your way up. If you are in a situation where you are a temp, keep that job to pay the bills but continue to look for other work where you are not a temp. If you don't have the necessary skills to do so, then find a way to get those skills.

The vast majority of people who are working these type of jobs at Amazon are folks who are not well educated and are lacking skills for better paying positions. Or they are folks who lost jobs in fields that have left the US or Europe for monetary reason (manufacturing/textille) or because the jobs they work are not available because they resource dried up (mining). They need to retrain themselves so they can move into new jobs that pay better. Or they are folks who are better educated but in fields that do not have many positions open and have not been creative enough in marketing their philosophy degree.

Amazon does hire some of the temp workers, just not more then they feel that they need. The rest they hire as temps to cover the busy season. Amazon the company cannot afford to keep the numbers needed during Christmas all year round. If they did keep those numbers, we would be complaining that very few of the employees work full time hours and are not eligible for benefits.

If you are the temp and do not stand out enough to get a full time position when one opens up, get your butt to school and get the skills needed to fill positions in need, like nursing. Not everyone is cut out to be a nurse, but there are other industries with openings, you need to have the right skills and degree.

These folks have a choice. They can work for Amazon as temps, they can move someplace that need miners, they can retrain themselves and get a job in a different field, or they can live on the dole.

I read report after report in the US about people struggling to live on wages from a fast food joint or two. They are working their butts off and barely making the ends meet. I feel bad for these people, I would not want to live that life. I also note that most of them a high school drop outs. As much as it would suck, find the time to take GED courses online or at the local school and get your GED. Go to classes at a community college that will get you an Associates that will get you a better job. I know it is hard. But four years of pain will probably lead to working one job that pays much better, provides benefits, and gives you more time at home. Demonstrate to your kids why education is important and be invovled so that they stay in school.

A high school degree is not a guarentee of an above minimum wage job but you have a better chance at one with it. An Associates degree is not a guarentee of an above minimum wage job but you have a better chance then you do with just a high school degree or GED. I could go on, but you get the picture.

People have done it in the past, you can do it now. It is hard but it can happen.

So feel free to blame Amazon but the reality is if the people stuck in this loop want things to change, they will have to do something proactive. FOr most people those steps will pay off. Not for all but for most. I have a feeling that it is easier to take those steps in the UK then it is in the US.

So I feel bad for them but I will do my best to model a different path for my son. Stay in school, get your degree, go to college of some sort and get your degree (I turned a Poli Sci degree into good work so Social Sciences don't have to be sucky in the job market). It will be his choice to stay in school and go to college (I had a brother drop out and go back five years later because he was stuck in low paying jobs and not happy).
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Old 03-14-2013, 02:58 PM   #63
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It is kind of hard to 'get the skills' when you are working either variable shifts or 2 'temp' jobs to make things meet .

It used to be, here in the valley, that employers would provide OJT (earn while learning). Once proficient, the pay would increase.
I know lots of folk that started out in the Mail room or Shipping. One even ended up being my boss .
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Old 03-14-2013, 04:22 PM   #64
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I know it is hard, I said that in my post, but people do it. If you want to make things better, you find a way to do things that are hard. Otherwise, you continue to work two jobs, barely making ends meet, and pray that you don't get sick because those jobs probably do not provide benefits. God knows what happens when some one in that position has to retire.

People use to move up like that, and in some place they might stll do that, but not too many companies in the US work that way. There should be more on the job training but Employeers expect people to enter the job knowing the basics, how to use the correct programs, how to read and write and do math. If you don't have the basics, employeers are not going to teach them to you because there are people out there who do have those skills and that saves them money.

All the more reason to try and find a way to decrease the drop out rate and encourage people to go for at least an associates degree. Even better, we can expand votech options at high school so that kids who don't want to go to college can get their high school degree while learning a trade that they can make a good living at. The US has failed to provide enough options to a high school kid who is not interested in going to college.

But lets be real, the people discussed in that article are not likely to be college educated folks. So temp jobs at a warehouse look pretty darn good because they can make more money then what they get from the government. But the jobs suck, employeers don't trust them because there has been a decent amount of theft in the past, they get no benefits, and there are enough other people who want the same crappy job that if you call in sick one day you are removed from the schedule.

The only way to get out of that cycle is to find a way to get the skills that get you out. Since most of these folks are well over the average school age, you cannot tell them to stay in school and make a better life for themselves. So the option is to keep bouncing from crap job to crap job or to get the skills needed somehow.

Many manufacturing jobs left the US and Europe because people were being paid a good deal of money to work the line. I lived in Michigan, I know people who were making more money then their managers on the line at auto companies. Why pay that when you can pay some one in Mexico a pittance and get a similar product? Rates go up in Mexico, move the factory to someplace in Asia.

Manufacturing jobs are returning to the US but the pay is a great deal less then it was when they left. People are complaining that they used to make X amount more an hour and are begrudgingly taking the jobs. Manufacturers know that they can charge less now because there are other options and people who are returning to those jobs know the same thing.

Such is the nature of the global economy. We can piss and moan about how things used to be or we can do something about the problems that exist today. Many folks stuck in the Amazon Warehouse type jobs are going to have to choose to take the difficult route or they are going to be stuck in those jobs. It sucks but that is the new reality.
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Old 03-14-2013, 05:04 PM   #65
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Such is the nature of the global economy. We can piss and moan about how things used to be or we can do something about the problems that exist today. Many folks stuck in the Amazon Warehouse type jobs are going to have to choose to take the difficult route or they are going to be stuck in those jobs. It sucks but that is the new reality.
Such is the nature of a technological economy.
Not even protectionism can counter the reality that things have changed all over.

Once upon a time it was possible to earn a solid income with two hands, a strong back, and the ability to follow instructions.
Those days are gone.
Nowadays, that job description can easily describe a Unimate Puma or two:


The key today is added value, knowing something useful requiring talent, skill, or at least education--preferably in short supply. (And in that order.)

A college education is one road, as long as you choose wisely (studying puppery might land you on an "Occupy" camp with big debt and no job just as surely as dropping out of high school).

Another road is learning a technical skill, whether it be plumbing or robot repair. It usually helps if it involves something you enjoy doing but sometimes you just have to "suck it in" and bear down.

Most importantly, entry level work like Amazon Warehouse Picker *should* be temporary; nobody should be as devoid of ambition as to *want* to stay in such a job. Entry level these days isn't so much an entry to a specific company as it is an entry to the workforce, a chance you can actually show up on time and do your job without being a disruption.

Which, sadly, isn't a guarantee; a decade ago during the days of 3-5% unemployment in the US, when entry-level jobs were going a-begging, the Welfare Depts in most major cities set up training programs to help the chronically unemployed get into the workforce and discovered that the lower 3% weren't merely unemployed, but actually unemployable; for a variety of reasons they simply were incapable of acquiring even the minimum skills of showing up on time or following instructions or getting along with co-workers or supervisors.

Which is one reason Unimate Pumas are good sellers and why Amazon bought Kiva Systems. And why Siri-style tech is in devellopment at most major tech companies. Humans *shouldn't* be doing most of those low-end entry level jobs.

And soon they won't.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

(shrug)
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Old 03-14-2013, 06:02 PM   #66
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Not true. Under the 2012 Pension Reform Act, agency workers are entitled to a pension.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...workplace.html

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Inside the warehouse, Amazon employees wear blue badges, and the workers supplied by the agencies wear green badges. In the most basic roles they perform the same tasks as each other for the same pay of £6.20 an hour or so (the minimum adult wage is £6.19), but the Amazon workers also receive a pension and shares.

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Old 03-14-2013, 09:27 PM   #67
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I'm convinced that export industry generally improves working conditions for people is developing countries.

Really?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/bu...-in-china.html
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Old 03-15-2013, 05:23 AM   #68
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...workplace.html

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Inside the warehouse, Amazon employees wear blue badges, and the workers supplied by the agencies wear green badges. In the most basic roles they perform the same tasks as each other for the same pay of £6.20 an hour or so (the minimum adult wage is £6.19), but the Amazon workers also receive a pension and shares.
Perfectly true at the time the article was written. What's not true is your statement that:

Quote:
no pensions will ever be paid to those workers.
Under new pension law, which comes into force this April, the employer of agency staff (ie the agency itself) will have to provide a pension scheme for their staff.

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Old 03-15-2013, 10:05 AM   #69
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Do you know how many employees Foxconn has in China? Almost 1 million. So let us put all the numbers in perspective, for example workplace accidents at Foxconn per 1 million workers compared to workplace accidents in other countries. They actually look pretty good, even compared to European countries.

China's workplace today is a seller's market, every factory is looking or workers and can't find any. The one-child policy has led to a great shortage of young people. If you don't like the salary or working conditions at Foxconn just walk a half mile down the road and you will be welcomed with open arms. Wages are rising 20-30% every year.

To see what foreign investment has done just compare Asia to Africa. In Africa there is almost no foreign investment, except mining. In China today workers' starting monthly salary at big companies is around US$ 500, skilled people get much more. In the old days before foreign investment they were lucky to make 50. You won't find too many in China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, etc who would want to go back to the old days.

And remember, even Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong started on the road to today's prosperity through foreign investment in the 50's and 60's. Samsung started out making cheap garments for US companies.

No, not everything is great for workers at companies like Foxconn. But workers have plenty of choices, as litterally everyone is looking for more workers or is at least desperate to keep the ones they have now, and so many choose to work at Foxconn. So they must be doing something right.

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Old 03-15-2013, 12:12 PM   #70
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Under new pension law, which comes into force this April, the employer of agency staff (ie the agency itself) will have to provide a pension scheme for their staff.
Quote:
A minimum of 8% of an employee's qualifying earnings must be paid into a pension, which is made up of:
3% employer contributions;
5% employee contributions, of which 1% comes in the form of tax relief
So the employer will be forced by law in the future to contribute 3% of an employee's salary to their pension fund. To say they will be providing a pension scheme is, I think, stretching it a bit, especially when all Amazon pay them in the first place is the pitiful minimum wage. And of course, many employees will opt-out of the reform as the minimum wage Amazon is paying them is not a living-wage, and as such, they can hardly afford a 4-5% reduction on their already paltry pay-packet.

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Old 03-15-2013, 12:15 PM   #71
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So Amazon will be forced in the future to contribute 3% of an employee's salary to their pension fund. To say that Amazon will be providing a pension scheme is, I think, stretching the facts a bit, especially when all Amazon pay them in the first place is the pitiful minimum wage.
They're already paying their own employees a pension. What has changed is that from this April the agency staff - ie contract workers - will also be entitled to a pension. This will be paid by the agency, not by Amazon.
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:26 PM   #72
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They're already paying their own employees a pension. What has changed is that from this April the agency staff - ie contract workers - will also be entitled to a pension. This will be paid by the agency, not by Amazon.
Yes, it's a given that they are already paying their permanent employees a pension. It's their short-term contract staff that they are not currently paying a pension.

I did wonder about the agency / employer differentiation. Does this mean Amazon in theory will be able to avoid contributing the 3% when the reform act kicks in?
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:28 PM   #73
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Yes, it's a given that they are already paying their permanent employees a pension. It's their short-term contract staff that they are not currently paying a pension.

I did wonder about the agency / employer differentiation. Does this mean Amazon in theory will be able to avoid contributing the 3% when the reform act kicks in?
The "employer contribution" will be paid by the agency. It's they who are the employer, not Amazon.
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:37 PM   #74
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The "employer contribution" will be paid by the agency. It's they who are the employer, not Amazon.
So Amazon contributes nothing towards their minimum-wage contract employees' pensions at the moment, nor will they in the future. They're really good at avoiding tax, too.

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Old 03-15-2013, 12:42 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by Rizla View Post
So Amazon contributes nothing towards their minimum-wage contract employees' pensions at the moment, nor will they in the future. And they work them hard.
They are NOT Amazon's employees - that's the whole point. They are the employees of the contract agency. It's the employer who arranges the pension, not the company to whom the agency staff are contracted. That's the way that the law works. I was a contractor in the IT industry myself for many years.
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