Amazon endured the second US worker protest in less than a week yesterday as concerns over worker safety remain unabated.
Workers at its fulfilment centre in Michigan, where at least one worker was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, staged a walkout on Wednesday.
One of the event’s organisers states that around 40 people joined the walkout, but Amazon has disputed this figure alleging it was closer to 15 of more than 4000 employees working at the warehouse.
This comes after Amazon controversially sacked Chris Smalls earlier this week after he led another worker walk out in New York over staff safety concerns.
While Smalls said Amazon was retaliating against him leading the protest, which he states was attended by 50 employees, Amazon says it was nothing to do with the protest adding that it once again disputed the figure which stood closer to 15 staff.
According to Amazon Smalls was instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days with pay after coming into close contact with an infected member of staff, and that his dismissal was due to breaking self-isolation rules for coming into work to lead the walk-out.
The move to sack Smalls prompted criticism from politicians and the public, with New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio calling for a human rights investigation into the move.
Amazon is reluctant to fully close down warehouses for sanitisation due to a sharp increase in order volumes as people are forced to stay at home.
While Amazon says it is taking “extreme” measure to protect workers at its warehouses, it is also hiring 100,000 new staff to meet demand.
According to the Wall Street Journal Amazon has been processing 10 to 40 per cent more packages than normal for this time of year, while its website saw traffic jump 32 per cent in the second week of March.