John Oliver exposes dangerous warehouse working conditions

John Oliver (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
John Oliver (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) /

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver looked at conditions for employees at warehouses operated by companies like Amazon.

There is no denying the convenience of online shopping for consumers. The ability to purchase just about any product in the world and have it delivered as soon as 24 hours later in some cases has changed the entire retail industry. It has also changed things at warehouses as John Oliver explained on Last Week Tonight.

Any discussion about e-commerce has to start with Amazon. We are just a couple weeks away from Prime Day, the company’s annual event offering deals and savings to Prime customers. It will also mean that employees at warehouses and fulfillment centers will be working extra hard to ensure all those goods are packaged and delivered on time.

Last Week Tonight continued its run of spotlighting interesting and often overlooked topics by taking a long hard look at warehouses. John Oliver helped start the conversation on what exactly happens when you buy something online.

As Oliver stated, Amazon isn’t the only company accused of mistreating employees and setting absurdly high productivity expectations. But there are a number of first-hand accounts and reports on what life is like for warehouse employees filling Amazon orders.

Oliver doesn’t seem to argue that warehouse work shouldn’t be physically demanding. He instead argues that a certain level of common sense should be applied rather than expecting employees to walk 15 or more miles a day, be refused adequate breaks, or restricted on bathroom use.

And as if those demanding production rates weren’t enough, multiple warehouses have had to deal with robots setting off bear repellent. That doesn’t sound like a normal occupational hazard that Amazon employees should expect. But as Oliver points out, the expectations in these warehouses are anything but normal.

Oliver continues to go after Amazon to close out the segment. He mocks the company’s leaked video bashing unions. Then Oliver turns his attention to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his plan to spend his fortune on space travel. The Last Week Tonight host calls out Bezos, questioning whether he actually wants to improve conditions for warehouse workers.

Related Story. John Oliver criticizes the WWE for its treatment of wrestlers. light

It is clear that Last Week Tonight with John Oliver wants to call more attention to issues like this one about warehouse conditions. It’s hard to say if it will have much impact on a company like Amazon but if Oliver can get the conversation started, it’s possible something could change.