Coronavirus: Amazon Fires Two More Staff Critical Of Warehouse Conditions

Amazon has reportedly fired two more workers in the United States, after they were critical of working conditions in its warehouses, during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The e-commerce giant is one of the few companies actually benefiting from the almost global lock-down as many countries maintain strict social distancing measures to fight against the spread of the virus. It has been on a heavy hiring spree of late.

On Monday Amazon said it was building its own coronavirus testing facility in order to monitor the health of its staff, as the company was hit by ongoing criticism around its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Covid-19 criticism

More than 50 Amazon-owned facilities in the US have confirmed cases of Covid-19, with some locations including multiple affected individuals.

Amazon has recently begun instituting anti-pandemic measures including taking the temperature of staff upon their arrival at work and spraying disinfectant on work stations.

But Amazon also made headlines when it fired a warehouse worker in Staten Island (New York), for reportedly breaking quarantine rules at the firm.

Christian Smalls had been fired after he had helped organise a walk out at the location (another took place in Detroit) in protest at Amazon’s alleged lack of protection of the workforce during the pandemic.

Last week five US senators sent Amazon chief Jeff Bezos a letter demanding more information on the firing of Christian Smalls.

Smalls had alleged that Amazon had not properly cleansed the warehouse after an employee was struck down with Covid-19.

Want to know about the history of Amazon? Try our Tales in Tech History piece.

Amazon however alleged that Smalls was fired because he had contact with a virus patient, and then violated a paid quarantine to join the protest.

The dismissal prompted New York City’s mayor to announce a probe and the state’s attorney general to demand a US labour board investigation.

More firings

But now Reuters has reported that two more Amazon workers have been fired, after they criticised the working conditions at the e-commerce giant’s warehouses.

Amazon reportedly confirmed the firings and said the two had been fired for “repeatedly violating internal policies”.

The two fired workers are reportedly Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, who worked as user-experience designers in Seattle.

It is reported elsewhere that they are also members of ‘Amazon Employees for Climate Justice’ an employee climate group that has been vocal in raising concerns over protecting warehouse staff.

According to Reuters, Amazon said it supported “every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies.”

Last month Amazon workers were told they would be able to take unlimited sick days in March, but only if they were diagnosed with Covid-19.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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