Amazon’s warehouses will be staffed by less humans and more robots over the busy Christmas period, a leading analyst has claimed.
The retail giant recruits thousands of additional employees every year to help meet the increased demand of the festive period.
Amazon is only recruiting an additional 100,000 people for this year, down 20,000 from the two previous Christmases.
Citi analyst Mark May told CNBC that this is likely a early sign of the increased automation at Amazon as it lessens its reliance on human employees.
Amazon has endured several controversies surrounding working conditions in its fulfilment centres with claims of staff being forced to urinate into a bottle and employees not being paid after suffering serious injuries art work.
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Amazon workers (pictured) are being replaced by robots as the firm implements more robots and lessens its dependence on human employees, a Citi analyst has claimed. Amazon is only recruiting an additional 100,000 people for Christmas, down 20,000 from previous years
‘We’ve seen an acceleration in the use of robots within their fulfillment centers and that has corresponded with fewer and fewer workers that they’re hiring around the holidays,’ the internet analyst said.
Mr May claimed this is the ‘first time on record’ that Amazon plans to hire fewer holiday workers than it did the previous year.
‘Since the last holiday season, we’ve focused on more ongoing full-time hiring in our fulfillment centers and other facilities,’ Amazon spokesperson Ashley Robinson told CNBC.
‘We are proud to have created over 130,000 new jobs in the last year alone.’
Ms Robinson said that since 2012 Amazon has created 300,000 full-time jobs.
‘It’s a myth that automation replaces jobs and destroys net job growth,’ she said.
‘Our teams work alongside more than 100,000 robots at over 26 fulfilment centres worldwide and we are excited to continue increasing the technology we use at our sites while growing our global workforce.’
Amazon claims it is a ‘myth’ that automation replaces jobs and destroys net job growth. This is the ‘first time on record’ that Amazon plans to hire fewer holiday workers than it did the previous year (file photo)
WILL YOUR JOB BE TAKEN BY A ROBOT?
A report in November 2017 suggested that physical jobs in predictable environments, including machine-operators and fast-food workers, are the most likely to be replaced by robots.
Management consultancy firm McKinsey, based in New York, focused on the amount of jobs that would be lost to automation, and what professions were most at risk.
The report said collecting and processing data are two other categories of activities that increasingly can be done better and faster with machines.
This could displace large amounts of labour – for instance, in mortgages, paralegal work, accounting, and back-office transaction processing.
Conversely, jobs in unpredictable environments are least are risk.
The report added: ‘Occupations such as gardeners, plumbers, or providers of child- and eldercare – will also generally see less automation by 2030, because they are technically difficult to automate and often command relatively lower wages, which makes automation a less attractive business proposition.’
Last month Amazon announced it would be raising the minimum wage for workers in the US to $15 per hour.
This follows a tumultuous period of time for the company which faced various complaints and widespread criticism of working conditions in its fulfilment centres.
A Guardian investigation earlier this year revealed that workers who suffered accidents at work were being left without an income or financial support.
An April survey of 100 anonymous employees revealed that more than half suffered from depression and eight had considered suicide.
The survey was carried out by Organise, which campaigns for employment unions.
Amazon’s fulfilment centres were branded as one most dangerous places to work in the United States by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health in their latest report, also published in April 2018.
James Bloodworth, who worked ten-hour shifts at a warehouse in Rugeley, Staffordshire, claimed staff were urinating in bottles because they were scared of getting in trouble for taking toilet breaks.
He said: ‘For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flights of stairs.’