Amazon’s staff are calling for an “online walkout” to protest the dismissal of numerous employees critical of its working conditions and safety practices.
Amazon Employees for Climate Justice are calling on their colleagues to call in sick on April 24 after it confirmed the dismissal of Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa earlier this week.
Both employees had been publicly critical about how Amazon had dealt with worker safety during the COVID-19 crisis and called on it to do more to protect workers.
Amazon dismissed both employees by phone last Friday for “repeatedly violating internal policies” which require employees to receive prior approval from management before saying anything about the company’s practices publicly.
“Amazon must never silence workers who speak out on matters of life and death,” the group said.
“The essential workers who run its digital and physical infrastructures deserve respect, not punishment, for speaking up and caring for each other.”
This comes after Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos laid out the company’s response to the crisis in a letter to shareholders.
It is reportedly considering “regular testing of all Amazonians” including staff who show no symptoms at all.
To undertake the testing of many thousands of employees, Amazon is building its own labs specially designed to test its own employees.
Bezos said: “A team of Amazonians—from research scientists and program managers to procurement specialists and software engineers—moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative.
“We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab and hope to start testing small numbers of our frontline employees soon. We are not sure how far we will get in the relevant timeframe, but we think it’s worth trying, and we stand ready to share anything we learn.”