Revelations. Amazon France: the real numbers of an “unheard of” social collapse

ONE “Unbelievable luck!” This is how President Emmanuel Macron described on October 3, 2017 amid applause with scissors in hand Amazon’s job creation during the inauguration of the logistics warehouse in Boves (Somme). For him, as for all liberals, every new warehouse that opens is an opportunity to stage one “economic dynamics” fantasized about an activity that would replace the industrial jobs of yesteryear.

The discrepancies in the national social report

But four years after this number of tap dances by Emmanuel Macron, an independent study analyzing social policy and employment at Amazon in France was presented to staff representatives during the company’s last Central Social and Economic Committee (CSEC).

Produced at the request of CSEC elected officials by the audit firm Progexa, this report publishes previously unavailable data and shows that Amazon is by no means a “chance” for workers. The document begins with an incredible chronicle, that of the innumerable pitfalls that Amazon’s human resources management has set the experts during their mission, by responding late to their requests for information, or in an incomplete manner.

Experts have also found that out “the national social balance shows discrepancies with the companies’ social balances” and “some social balance indicators show completely wrong numbers”. The report nevertheless provides a panoramic view of the company’s activity and contains important disclosures.

What about massive hiring on permanent contracts?

As part of their media appearances, the managers of Amazon France reiterate that the use of temporary work in their warehouses will be correlated to “a seasonal activity”. And at this point, during the Sarkozy, Hollande and then Macron presidencies, there was no shortage of liberal political representatives favorable to the establishment of Amazon as parrots for the communicators of the American multinational.

Interviewed on 25 June 2012 during the inauguration of the Amazon warehouse in Sevrey (Saône-et-Loire), the Minister of Productive Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg, defended Amazon as follows: “Listen, there are seasonal jobs, just like in any activity. Harvesting is seasonal work. In industry, there is seasonal work. »

In 2021, 962 employment contracts were terminated at the end of the trial period.

In fact, instead of hiring workers on permanent contracts, Amazon deliberately maintains an extremely high percentage of temporary workers. In 2021, temporary workers thus represent 42% of the total workforce employed by Amazon France. This figure reinforces the myth of the flagship of logistics, which would hire in the chain on fixed contracts in socially devastated territories. “A significant part of the use of temporary workers remains structural at Amazon and would justify more recruitment on permanent contracts”, the report points out.

To support the growth of the company and its openings of new warehouses, Amazon’s total workforce has increased: it will reach 16,571 FTE (full-time equivalents) in 2021. However, Progexa experts have noted that during the same year, temporary employment increased faster than those on fixed contracts.

From using the trial period at Amazon…

In the past, Amazon generally imposed a temporary period on its new recruits before they were hired on a permanent contract. From now on, in order to benefit from public support from the Pôle emploi, the procedure has changed: Amazon directly signs CDIs to a large number of workers and then breaks their employment contracts in the chain before the end of their trial period.

For the year 2021, 962 employment contracts were terminated at the employer’s initiative at the end of the trial period! In total, one in five employees hired in 2021 left the company before the end of their trial period. For the locations of Saran (Loiret) and Brétigny-sur-Orge (Essonne), one out of four appointments did not materialize. The end of the trial period is now the main reason for employee departures.

“The worst part of all this is that Amazon does not refund the public support it receives from Pôle Emploi when it terminates a permanent contract at the end of the trial period”, indignant Alain Jeault, the central trade union representative of the CGT Amazon. Amazon, for its part, refused to respond specifically to the criticism of the Progexa report. The company was happy to ship to Humanity a pro domo plea claiming it would create 3,000 jobs by 2022.

900,000 overtime hours in 2021

Staff turnover exploded in 2021: it rose from 22% to 48%. This is explained by a large number of departures, which have tripled in one year. Among workers and employees, this attrition increased from 12% to 28%. Even more telling: after two years, more than one in five employees has already left the company. And one picture out of three! Correspondingly, more than one in ten employees leave the company in the first year. At Amazon, 62% of layoffs are due to job abandonment, which says a lot about the extreme difficulty of working in their warehouses.

Experts also found that Amazon workers worked 900,000 hours of overtime in 2021, which equates to 562 FTEs. And this to be able to send more than 982 million articles in one year. This means that a full-time employee on average for all warehouses handles around 65,000 items per year. Productivity increased by 1% in 2021.

Additionally, over the past four years, occupational medicine has declared 106 Amazon employees unfit to continue their jobs. Of these 106 employees, only five have benefited from a suitable position. All the others were fired. The Alene Brétigny-sur-Orge (ORY4) warehouse, which opened in 2019, already has eleven unfit employees.

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