Amazon Has Convinced Workers at Its Fulfilment Centres to Participate in Virtual Tours and Everything Is Fine

Amazon Has Convinced Workers at Its Fulfilment Centres to Participate in Virtual Tours and Everything Is Fine

Amazon Australia is opening its fulfilment centres up to the public, sort of. It’s giving us outsiders ‘tours’ but they’re all virtual and carefully curated.

The pitch from Amazon is: “Ever wondered what happens from when you click order, to when your shopping arrives at your doorstep? Well now you don’t have to!”.

According to Amazon, the virtual tours at fulfilment centres in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will run four days a week, with each tour allowing customers to “get behind the scenes at all three sites”, to “see how their online shopping cart gets to their doorstep”.

Yep. A carefully curated online tour of a company’s operations.

There has been no shortage of news emerging from Amazon’s U.S. fulfilment centres. By almost all accounts, Amazon warehouses are not pleasant places to work. People face dangerous conditions, difficult quotas and near-instant retaliation for failure to meet expectations.

But it isn’t just overseas.

A few years ago, the ABC ran an exposé on the shopping giant’s local operations, the Sydney Morning Herald ran something similar, too. The SMH reported back in 2018 that some of Amazon’s Australian workers had described how they were being monitored and analysed every second of their workday. The ABC piece, meanwhile, described how a public-facing video of Amazon’s Melbourne warehouse didn’t represent what really goes on inside the fulfilment centre.

At the time, workers told the ABC that the workplace was built around a culture of fear where their performance is timed to the second, that they are expected to constantly work at ‘Amazon pace’ (somewhere between walking and jogging) and that everyone was employed as a casual and constantly anxious about whether they’ll get another shift.

There’s no denying the tech behind the success of Amazon is exceptionally cool. After all, it’s the same successful tech that helped shoot its founder Jeff Bezos into billionaire status (he’s currently ranked third on Forbes’ Real-time Billionaire’s list with a $US168 billion, or $236 billion in Aussie terms, net worth). But this just doesn’t sit right.

Each fulfilment centre tour is live, Amazon confirmed with Gizmodo Australia, despite it being virtual, and those watching along will hear testimonials from workers. There is an option for a live Q&A while you’re attending the tour, too.

According to Mindy Espidio-Garcia, the newly appointed director of operations at Amazon Australia, the tours provide Australian customers with an opportunity to learn how their orders are fulfilled and meet some of the team who make that happen. Prior to moving to Sydney, Espidio-Garcia spent eight years in fulfilment centres in the U.S..

“At Amazon, our promise is all about providing great value and fast delivery for our customers. In order to do that, we’ve hired talented employees from right across the country, and invested in the systems and technology to support them. With online shopping now a part of everyday life, this is the perfect opportunity for customers to join us for an hour to see what happens after they place their order,” she said.


The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.