The worst things about working at a grim Amazon facility

Residents in an English mining town were hoping for an economic boost. Instead, they became automatons

By Prachi Gupta
Published July 2, 2013 4:56PM (EDT)

It's no secret that Amazon has some questionable practices. But in a recent Co.Design article, photographer Ben Roberts described a facility (not the one pictured above) in Rugeland, England, a former mining town where the workers "are effectively human robots," fulfilling orders round-the-clock to ensure that the retail giant can keep costs and prices down.

The whole account of life at the Amazon warehouse is shockingly grim and bleak, conjuring up images of a technological wasteland from a Philip K. Dick novel. Here are some of the most disturbing details:

    • An associate might walk as many as 15 miles in a single shift in a warehouse the size of nine soccer fields.
    • Workers can be fired for talking.
    • The facility is "vast but one-dimensional," according to Roberts. "It’s shockingly quiet there."
    • The warehouse reminded Roberts of Edward Burtynsky's images of barren industrial landscapes.
    • Workers move around through the facility by "a computer that both tracks and commands every worker’s movements throughout the day."
    • The jobs are almost always freelance, with almost no future advancement potential.
    • Meanwhile, there are cardboard cutouts of Amazon employees with cartoon bubbles that say, "This is the best job I ever had!"

According to Pennsylvania newspaper the Morning Call, it seems like Amazon facilities aren't much better work environments across the pond, either.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Amazon England Jobs Online Retail Robots Science-fiction Warehouses