Amazon staff at its key warehouse in New York are planning to strike today in a bid to force the retailer to deep clean the site and provide extra protection for employees.
Around 100 workers plan to stage a work stoppage at Amazon’s JFK8 site on Staten Island after an employee was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19.
While the employee has been told to self-isolate for 14 days by Amazon, the strike’s lead organiser Chris Smalls says the site has continued to run as usual at since the confirmed case and workers were becoming concerned about the virus spreading “like wildfire”.
“Since the building won’t close by itself, we’re going to have to force (Amazon’s) hand,” Smalls said.
“We will not return until the building gets sanitized.”
An Amazon spokesperson said that it was “following all guidelines from local health officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site”.
The 855,000sq ft site, which houses around 4500 workers, has recently had daily temperature screenings introduced as an extra preventative measure, and is reportedly cleaned multiple times a day.
Despite these measures, Amazon’s employees across the US have grown increasingly critical of the company’s response to the outbreak.
Amazon temporarily closed its site in Queens, New York, for a deep clean after its first US employee contracted COVID-19, while another two employees were confirmed to have contracted the virus in in Michigan and Oklahoma last week but Amazon did not shut the sites.
This comes after four US senators including Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker wrote a letter to Jeff Bezos accusing the retailer of failing to provide sufficient protection for warehouse workers, “putting the whole country at risk”.
Amazon workers in Italy, France and Spain have also continued to hold protests, accusing the retail giant of lax practices in order to protect them from contagion.