After negotiations between both trade unions [Inicjatywa Pracownicza and Solidarność] and management representatives from Amazon Poland, the controversial system of employee evaluation [“feedback”] was suspended for a period of four months. The system has been criticized by Inicjatywa Pracownicza base union for many months.
From September 30 to October 4, we negotiated the Christmas Bonus Regulations on behalf of Inicjatywa Pracownicza at Amazon together with the second trade union [Solidarność]. The talks were not easy. Amazon initially offered a bonus between 900 and 1,200 zlotys, depending on the warehouse, for a 4-week period [of uninterrupted attendance]. The unions demanded a higher bonus, i.e., not lower than last year’s and the same amount for all warehouses. The company made clear that no bonus would be paid if the unions did not approve the amounts it proposed.
The final bonus amounts agreed are 1,300 zlotys for POZ [Poznan] and WRO [Wroclaw] and 1,000 zlotys for KTW [Katowice] and SZZ [Szczecin], both for directly employed and for agency workers. That is not satisfying, but we decided to accept it on the condition that Amazon suspends the controversial performance evaluation (i.e. negative “feedback” on labor productivity and quality as regulated by Appendix no. 3 to Amazon’s Labor Regulations). We also managed to shorten the period of obligatory attendance at work that is required to obtain the bonus to 3 weeks (in the period December 9 to 29) and to introduce additional exceptions for absence which do not lead to the cancellation of the bonus (special leave, visit at Amcare of less then one hour, court summons).
The suspension of Appendix no. 3, i.e., negative “feedback” for labor performance and quality, can be considered as a breakthrough in the fight for the improvement of working conditions in Amazon warehouses in Poland. The unions have never agreed to the appendix that allowed Amazon to lay off employees for not meeting the performance targets or quality rates. A warehouse worker was expected to reach 100 percent, and if a worker did not reach that and received six negative feedbacks within twelve months or four in a row (i.e., four weeks in a row), the employee was recommended for dismissal, even if meeting 99 percent of the target.
Inicjatywa Pracownicza has been criticizing the evaluation system in leaflets, during protests, and in court trials, claiming that it is biased, that it does not consider stoppages that have nothing to do with the employee, and that it leads to psychological pressure for the workers. The system was a reference point of a court expert who wrote in a legal expertise that "work at Amazon is not adjusted to the physical and mental capabilities of an employee." The increase of targets (without consultation with the unions) led to exhaustion and a never-ending hustle to reach the targets, thus endangering the workers’ health. In August 2018, we described this problem in a letter to the director of Amazon's Operations, Steven Harman. Moreover, we informed the [Polish] Labor Inspectorate about the problem which pointed out that the employer is obliged to consult the unions on wages and wage components. Amazon Poland has not done that so far.
The Appendix no. 3 to Amazon’s Labor Regulations was suspended for the period from October 8, 2018, to January 31, 2019. During that period, no worker will receive a negative feedback due to insufficient labor productivity or quality and will not receive a termination of the contract on that basis. Until the end of January 2019, the unions will negotiate new provisions regarding the Appendix in eight meetings with the representatives of the management board. The first meeting will take place on October 18, 2018. If, by January 31, 2019, the company is unable to reach an agreement on the Appendix, the deadline will be extended to February 28, 2019.
Without a fight, do not count on a better life!
Union Inicjatywa Pracownicza at Amazon Fulfillment Poland