Amazon patents bracelet to control its workers
Amazon will use the bracelet to monitor workers’ movement in its storage facilities.
Amazon, bracelet and control are three words that when used in the same sentence can give goosbumps to any of its workers.
The company of Jeff Bezos has reaped a little grateful fame for its policy of personnel management and recent news about Amazon’s initiative to control its workers via a mandatory bracelet unleashed the alert to a possible hardening of that treatment.
Amazon has obtained the authorization of two patents with which it wants to develop a wireless wristband to monitor the movements of its workers in the logistics warehouses of the company.
Technically, it would be a device that, through ultrasound and radio broadcasts, would be able to identify the exact place of the hands of the workers inside the huge shelves that contain all its products.
The purpose for which this device is conceived is, according to the published information, to facilitate to the employees the location of the products.
“Simplify time-consuming tasks, such as responding to orders and packaging them for quick delivery. With the guidance of a bracelet, the workers could complete the orders faster”, ewpoera a The New York Times.
The explanation is very similar to the concept of Amazon Go, the technology on which pivots its newly opened store in Seattle, in which customers access through a code on their smartphone. The code identifies and monitors their location and all the items they buy.
But what can be a great idea for a client client, may not be so great for employees.
At least that is what the New York Times concluded after conducting some tests. After learning about the details, the newspaper consulted employees and former employees of the company about their impressions.
Without a doubt, the first answer is fear.
According to the New York newspaper, warehouse employees of Carteret, located in New Jersey, are aware that any technological advance that Amazon develops does not come to light without first having been tested by its employees.
They have witnessed previous innovations and do not rule out being one of this future bracelet.
Without disregarding the possible benefit that this tool can bring to the efficiency of its activity, employees consulted by the New York Times fear that it will serve to exacerbate the extreme pressure that the company exerts on its employees.
In some countries, companies are allowed to use technologies that facilitate the organization of work and even the control, by the employer, of the correct fulfillment of the tasks included in the work contract.
But, as has it happened in the US, doubts arise in the limits. Where does the management of work end and where does the control of privacy begin when it comes to controlling the movements of a worker?
Former employees of Amazon, cited by the New York Times, fear that this will end up requiring workers to act as robots, at the same speed and without being able to modify the programmed guidelines in any case.
The employer can exercise control of workers as long as it is compatible with the dignity of the worker, so the question is, when does technology violate that dignity?
If employees feel excessive control over their work or their personal activity, they would have no choice but to transfer this complaint to the courts, as it is the case until now, and it would be up to the judges to assess whether the company exceeds the limits of personal dignity.
The use of this technology would mean that all the activity of the workers would be registered electronically and thus the labor inspection would have more facilities to verify if extra hours are done and if those are paid properly, a lawyer consulted by this publication says.
There are benefits and risks that, without a doubt, Bezos and his team will have to evaluate before deciding whether to continue with the development of his control bracelet or keep the patents in a drawer.