News: Logistics group UPS rocked by claims of poor working conditions

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Logistics group UPS rocked by claims of poor working conditions

UPS employees said they faced intense pressure from management over productivity quotas and understaffing.
Logistics group UPS rocked by claims of poor working conditions

UPS workers are blowing the whistle on the logistics company over poor working conditions including intense productivity quotas and unsafe environments. The accusations come after an employee died by suicide after allegedly getting by fired.

The UPS Worldport in the US is considered the biggest automated packaging sorting centre in the world. It covers a total area of 5.2 million square feet and has 155 miles of conveyor belts and 70 aircraft docks. The facility is so massive that it employs an estimated 20,000 workers just to handle the large number of packages that pass through it.

However, several workers spoke to The Guardian about the terrible conditions that they were subjected to at the sorting centre.

Poor working conditions at UPS Worldport

In the interview, the UPS employees said they faced intense pressure on productivity quotas from the management. The facility also had serious understaffing, which made it difficult for them to work. 

The workers described how UPS Worldport had worn-out equipment and an unclean environment. They said staff would often suffer injuries while working at the sorting centre.

Read more: These workers are most worried about money: study

This is not the first time that UPS made the news regarding its supposed mistreatment of workers. In October, police discovered the dead body of a female employee at UPS Worldport. Investigators believe the woman had died by suicide.

One of the employees interviewed by The Guardian revealed that the woman had just been fired by the company prior.

“She was pregnant. I believe she was in her second trimester, and she got fired because she fell asleep on the job and, instead of being walked out, because whenever a person gets fired, the manager who fires them has to walk them off into the property and that manager didn’t do that,” the UPS worker said.

“She said that she has to collect herself in the bathroom and he didn’t make sure that she came out of the bathroom, so she was given free rein of the property.”

While UPS refused to comment on the specifics of the incident, it has extended its condolences to the family and friends of the female employee. The company also cautioned the public about inaccurate posts circulating on social media about the case.

Another UPS employee said they were not surprised that something like that could happen at UPS Worldport. They accused the company of using the threat of termination against workers who were late or used the bathroom far too many times. They were also subjected to surveillance and scrutiny.

Read more: Workers fear job loss due to robots

The logistics company has also been accused of pressuring staff to increase their productivity, despite the workers already covering heavy workloads due to understaffing.

The Guardian also spoke to another worker who said the poor working conditions at UPS Worldport made the usual challenges of their job worse.

“I blow my nose sometimes and what comes out is brown and black from the dust that does not get cleaned up in there,” the worker said. “The machinery is old. Stuff falls on people. Stuff is always breaking like guardrails. Lockdown belts have holes in them.”

UPS denied workers’ accusations of understaffing. The company stressed that UPS Worldport is regularly maintained and cleaned, and that it provides mental health support and counselling to employees. However, UPS did not comment on the workers’ complaints about productivity pressures, as well as not being given enough breaks.

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Topics: #Well-being

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