Amazon workers in Germany on two-day strike over COVID-19 infections

Amazon endangering the health of employees to increase corporate profit


Amazon warehouse workers have gone on 48 hour strike in Germany after staff tested positive for the coronavirus. The strikes are taking place at six of the e-commerce giant’s warehouses across the country on Monday and Tuesday. Strikes are being held at Amazon warehouses in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Rheinberg, Werne and Koblenz. 
The health and safety fears are rising at workplaces as workers returning to work.  Germany’s largest Union Verdi has said that Amazon is endangering the lives of warehouse workers. “Amazon has so far shown no insight and is endangering the health of employees in favor of corporate profit,” said Orhan Akman, who is responsible for the retail and mail order sectors at Verdi, in a statement. A recent outbreak at a warehouse in the town of Bad Hersfeld infected at least 30 to 40 Amazon workers, the union said. 
Amazon has faced a long-running battle with unions in Germany over better pay and conditions for logistics workers, who have staged frequent strikes since 2013. Amazon has a poor record as far as wages, safety and health of workers are concerned. The American E-commerce giant is known for flouting labour laws and safety standards to maximise the profits.
Similar strikes have also taken place in the U.S., where Amazon clamped down hard and fired workers. Last month, Amazon VP Tim Bray quit “in dismay” at the firm’s crackdown. In a blog post, the Amazon Web Services engineer said the firing of protesters was evidence of “a vein of toxicity running through the company culture.”
Amazon has been accused of having a slower response to the coronavirus than Chinese rivals Alibaba and JD.com. Germany is the biggest market for Amazon after US.   
Over 50 Amazon fulfillment centres around the world have seen cases of the coronavirus, while some have dubbed the warehouses as “breeding grounds of coronavirus.” At least eight Amazon warehouse workers have died as a result of the coronavirus. 
Amazon says it has gone to “great lengths” to protect workers from the virus. Temperature checks, disinfectant spraying, “enhanced” cleaning and social distancing have been introduced at warehouses, and workers are given protective masks to wear. But the virus still seems to be spreading in some warehouses. 
“The facts are: by end of June, we will have invested approximately $4 billion worldwide on COVID-related initiatives getting products to customers and keeping employees safe,” an Amazon spokesperson told media. 
“In Germany alone, we have ordered 470 million units of hand disinfectant, 21 million pairs of gloves, 19 million units of face masks, face shields and other mouth-nose-covers, 39 million units of disinfectant wipes. Health authorities and government officials are confirming that we have the right measures in place to protect associates and customers.”
                                                                          Khalid Bhatti 
  

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