The multinational U.S.-based company Amazon must ensure its workers across the globe receive adequate health and safety protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amnesty International said, as hundreds of U.S. Amazon workers prepare to call in sick on Friday in protest over labour issues.
Worker organizations report that hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers in the U.S. have already stayed home from work this week, citing concerns including a lack of health protection at warehouses.
Amnesty International also called on the e-commerce giant to protect the rights of workers who speak out, amid allegations that staff have been fired after voicing safety concerns.
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“We stand in solidarity with Amazon workers who are speaking up for their rights. Amazon warehouse and delivery workers are risking their lives in the midst of a pandemic to deliver essential goods to all of us,” said Joe Westby, Researcher at Amnesty International.
“Amazon is one of the world’s wealthiest companies and its profits are surging as a result of this crisis. It is repugnant that the company’s workforce feel their safety is not being taken seriously. Jeff Bezos needs to step up and address the legitimate and vital concerns raised by Amazon staff – profits should never be put above people.
“It’s outrageous that Amazon is set to end its policy to give workers the option to take unlimited unpaid leave, which was just instituted in March. With reports of new COVID-19 cases emerging at warehouses in Indiana and New Jersey, employees face an impossible choice of potentially putting their health at serious risk by going to work or having to leave the company.
“Allegations that staff have been fired for speaking out are deeply disturbing. No Amazon worker should face reprisals for speaking out about safety concerns. Amazon must ensure that workers can report concerns about health and safety risks without fear of retaliation.”