4 Democratic US senators on Friday expressed concern in a letter to Amazon Chief Government Jeff Bezos that the world’s largest on-line retailer has not given sufficient assist to warehouse workers throughout the coronavirus outbreak, in line with a duplicate of the message seen by Reuters.
The lawmakers, led by Cory Booker and together with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, pointed to a information report that mentioned disinfectant wipes and sanitisers had been in low provide at Amazon services. The letter mentioned staff risked poor efficiency rankings in the event that they took ample time to clean their palms after coughing or sneezing on the job, additionally citing a information report.
“Any failure of Amazon to keep its workers safe does not just put their employees at risk, it puts the entire country at risk,” the letter mentioned, noting the virus may survive as much as 24 hours on cardboard akin to Amazon packaging, in line with media.
Amazon mentioned the allegations about its practices “are simply unfounded.”
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The senators’ letter displays the extreme stress Amazon is underneath to maintain warehouses, staff and the general public protected whereas it delivers items to shoppers world wide, a few of whom are underneath lockdown. It additionally displays ongoing tensions between an organization whose chief is the world’s richest individual and Democrats who’ve lengthy criticized its working situations and pay.
The opposite signatories had been Senators Robert Menendez and Sherrod Brown.
Seattle-based Amazon has seen a rush of enterprise on account of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week it mentioned it could obtain solely important provides at its US and UK and different European warehouses till April 5, with the intention to unencumber stock area for medical and family items in excessive demand.
Amazon mentioned it was serving to communities in want whereas defending its workers. It has staggered work occasions, ended stand-up conferences throughout shifts and required hand-washing after somebody sneezes or coughs. Workers have allotted time to clean their palms each time they want, with out hurting their efficiency, the corporate mentioned.
“We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances,” mentioned Amazon.
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The senators’ letter requested the corporate to reply a number of questions in writing by March 26, together with whether or not it could comply with cowl workers’ COVID-19 take a look at prices and whether or not it could provide paid sick depart to staff who aren’t recognized with the virus.
The corporate has introduced different advantages for workers scared of contagion, akin to limitless unpaid break day for hourly staff by way of the tip of March.
The coronavirus has led to at the least 11,311 deaths globally, largely in Italy and China. There have been workers at Amazon’s headquarters who’ve contracted the illness, in addition to workers in Europe, the place greater than 200 staff staged a strike on Wednesday calling for the closure of a transport heart in Saran, south of Paris.
Amazon mentioned this week it was closing a New York Metropolis supply station for a interval of cleansing after a employee there examined constructive for the virus. The senators requested if Amazon would pledge comparable momentary shutdowns ought to the identical circumstance come up at services sooner or later.
One of many greatest US employers, Amazon has opened greater than 500,000 full- and part-time jobs within the nation, a lot of them for achievement and supply roles. It mentioned this week it could rent 100,000 extra US warehouse and supply staff to cope with the surge in on-line orders throughout the outbreak.