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NYT Exposé Reveals How Amazon Is ‘Crushing Those Who Come In The Way’: Still Ordering?

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By Ipsita Barik:

When you hit the wall, there is only one solution – climb the wall. What’s this? An inspirational quote? A success mantra? Well, right now, it’s the quote that drives you right into the middle of the Amazon “workplace crisis” story. The New York Times exposé, of the “bruising workplace” by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld, has led to global wariness and restrains about modern day capitalism. And yet as Stuart Heritage accounts, it will be extremely difficult for society to “castigate or chastise Amazon“, primarily because of its addiction to the convenience it delivers to our doorstep. David Holmes explains that even though the “tech companies were informed by the 60s counterculture –let’s not kid ourselves, cause the new boss is the same as the old boss!

amazon
The Amazon workplace has surfaced practices such as the midnight work mails which must be answered, the encouragement to secret ‘Anytime feedbacks’ on tailored templates, the weekly business reviews testing employees’ mastery over voluminous metrics and data, to the ruthless sacking of the ailing and the recovering. The Amazon “work practices” have compelled a global debate on work ethics and the obscure yet rampant practice of ‘Social Darwinism’ in societies.

Bo Olson, an ex-Amazonian’s account that, “nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk” is rebutted by Susan Harker, recruiter at Amazon, “When you’re shooting for the moon, for some people it doesn’t work.” The company, with a market value of $250 billion and global operations, with an impressive customer base, has an intricate confidentiality form, signed by all its employees. Now we know what Amazon attempted at hiding. The above picture might induce some to think, “you gotta be tough to reach the top!“, while others will roll, “these guys are bullies!

The Amazon way is towards building an empire and crushing or eliminating those who come in the way. The NYT article points out that the use of data towards worker “performance measurement” on a constant and obsessive scale is a tool that is not exclusive to Amazon. The achievement ladder, and who climbs up the fastest, who lingers even the slightest and who is yet to step up, are measurements that are crucial to contemporary consumption-driven
markets. You gotta sell before the others do. It seems for Jeff Bezos, the mantra is “as long working at Amazon is excruciatingly uncomfortable for my employees, my company is swell!” Work-family balance is not encouraged and continual self-criticism and censure of fellow workers is integral to the Amazon way.

Data based management isn’t employed only on the workers. It expands into customer analysis and business models. According to the bosses, organizational transparency within Amazon and a constant scrutiny intra and inter workers, is crucial to the company’s success. While others point out that the constant feedback at the intra level is just institutionalizing office ‘scheming and gossip’. So the annual review is turned head over heels with the incessant review tools and its full throttle combat, pushing each and every to the brink of excellence or extinction. Where
weekdays roll into the weekends, the “yank and rank” practice to meet mandatory worker culling is neither performance encouraging nor compatible. Those recovering from illness or taking care of ailing relatives have automatically come under the ‘eugenics scanner’.

So the Amazon way seems to be to keep the ‘genetic stock’ at the apex. ‘Cause nothing else will work but relentless grind! And even though I hope the Flavorwire comment: “Amazon’s brand has been damaged by this NYT article, probably permanently. Many people who used to associate their name with convenience will now be haunted by the knowledge of what that convenience costs,” turns out to be true, I guess the real solution is in strengthening collective bargaining and union activism, cause society surely will stop at the “haunting and the slight discomfort” in the age of instant commerce and unhindered consumption.

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  1. Avinesh Saini

    I just do not get the big deal. Capitalists are bound to behave like capitalists.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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