According to Forbes, on 27 October Jeff Bezos became officially the world’s richest man as shares in his company, Amazon, jumped 13%. Meanwhile a recent Sunday Mirror investigation revealed that overworked Amazon workers are falling asleep on their feet as they endure long hours and sometimes compulsory overtime. For £8.20 an hour they are worked to the bone, with timed toilet breaks and targets requiring them to process a minimum of 120 items an hour, rising to 200. The investigation found that a number of workers were so overworked that they collapsed on the job and ambulances had to be called.
None of this need disturb Bezos, secure in the knowledge that capitalism will continue to reward him generously for his pioneering experiments in the intensification of labour, furnishing him with an endless supply of cheap workers to replace those who get burnt out and get carted off to A and E. And in the US, cities are queueing up for the privilege of hosting the planned second Amazon headquarters, in the process letting slip the mask of ‘democratic accountability’ to their citizens.
According to the Independent of 27 November 2017 (Ben Chapman, ‘Illinois have jointly offered to hand Amazon $1.32bn of its worker’s income taxes to host its new headquarters’ 27 November 2017), "Chicago and the state authorities of Illinois have jointly offered to hand Amazon more than $2bn in tax breaks, including $1.32bn of its workers’ income taxes. The scheme, known as a personal income tax diversion, would mean Amazon workers pay full income taxes, but instead of the state getting the money to use for schools, roads and other public services, Amazon would keep it… Even Chicago’s offer is dwarfed by the $7bn in incentives tabled by the Republican governor of New Jersey… The proposal includes paying Amazon up to $10,000 for every job it creates.”
So far from making Amazon pay its debt to society and stump up all the taxes it has dodged, the plan now is effectively for workers to pay their taxes to Amazon and cut out the middle man. Or why not go the whole hog like Boston and promise to use tax payers’ money to create an ‘Amazon Task Force’ of city employees dedicated to fulfilling the company’s needs? (see Harriet Agerholm, ‘Amazon workers working 55-hour weeks and so exhausted by targets they “fall asleep standing up”’, The Independent, 27 November 2017).
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