US Capitalism – Ugly Reality Behind Dazzling Neon SignsDecember 27, 2021
On Friday 11th December several US states were hit by severe typhoons. Warnings were being issued by weather department and administration for everyone to stay indoors. But management of Amazon, owned by Jeff Bezos, one of the richest capitalists in the world’s richest capitalist country were pressurising workers to complete deliveries on schedule. When some workers in a warehouse in Illinois which was in the direct path of the typhoon asked permission to go home, the managers clearly told the workers that whoever leaves in the middle of the shift, would not have the job next day. Job insecurity being a great problem in current times of high unemployment, only a few dared leave and many workers remained behind in the warehouse. The warehouse building collapsed in the storm, burying several workers in the debris. 7 died and several others were wounded. We can have a look at the attached screen shot of a worker named Larry Virden chatting with his partner. He told her that Amazon was not letting them go. Shortly thereafter, Virden, father of 4 children, lost his life there. Even his partner’s ‘I love you’ could not reach him. Mother of another worker, Clayton Cope, who also lost his life, was interviewed consoling herself saying that at least she was able to say ‘I love you’ to her son!
Amazon is notorious for the brutal intensity of exploitation of its workers. In the past, there were reports quoting its workers that they are under so much work pressure that they cannot even go to the toilet and often carry a bottle with them to pass urine. Of the 190 workers in the warehouse that collapsed, only 7 were permanent workers, the rest were temporary workers with very low wages. Amazon is also notorious for preventing its workers from unionizing. A few days ago, there were reports of manipulation and pressure on workers and rigging of the vote to form a union in a Amazon warehouse. The above incident is among several reported in the last 6 months when workers were forced to work in dangerous conditions at Amazon warehouses. A few days ago, despite the flood situation in New York, the workers were compelled to work.
Similar incident happened at a scented candle factory of Mayfield Consumer Products in Kentucky, where 15 workers kept asking for permission to leave amid warnings but were threatened with being fired, in case they left. Eight of the workers who could not leave work due to fear of losing their jobs lost their life. This building was also razed to the ground in the severe storm. These two are just the big news that have come to wider attention because of the media/social media. There must have been more like this.
In India, the details of such incidents are not reported at all in the corporate controlled media. Even in social media, these incidents do not become a topic of discussion for the middle-class people. But in this ‘great’ country of ours, according to the report of the Safety Council, about 50 thousand workers die annually in such workplace related ‘accidents’, with a large uncounted number being wounded, losing their limbs and becoming handicapped, helpless for life, no longer being able to work. But these are not accidents, instead these are cold blooded murders caused by the most owners cutting down on health and safety measures and required equipment for maximising profit. In factories, mines, buildings, shops, sewers, roads, bridges, farms, bungalows-everywhere where workers work, everywhere workers lose lives for the profits of capitalists. In some small factories, the owners and managers go home in the evening locking premises from outside and the workers sleep there after working till late into the night. In case of the building collapse or the fire, they lose their lives trapped inside being unable to escape. Such incidents have happened many times, not only in small towns, but also in the densely populated industrial settlements behind bustling malls and clogged market streets in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc. But instead of punishing such criminal capitalists, they have been given many exemptions from such safeguards in the newly legislated Labor Codes awaiting implementation.
Those who say that capitalists become rich by the dint of hard work must be telling the truth, because the ‘poor’ capitalists would indeed have to work very hard to suck the last drop of the workers’ blood!