Amazon is set to see more than 350 workers from 50 of its warehouses not turn up to work in protest of its working conditions this week.
In what is set to be the biggest mass demonstration yet in the ongoing dispute between Amazon and its staff surrounding safety conditions in its warehouses during the COVID-19 epidemic, scores of protesters are due to call in sick starting today.
United for Respect, one worker’s rights coalition which protests on behalf of workers from various retailers including Walmart and Toys ‘R’ US, said more than 300 Amazon employees from 50 facilities will take part in the protest, demanding more transparency, sanitation, and two weeks of paid sick leave and health care for part time and contracted associates.
A second coalition of local and national organisations representing workers called Athena told the press that more than 350 employees from 40 facilities would join the protest today.
It suggested that workers from more than 130 warehouses had now contracted COVID-19, and some single warehouses had more than 30 confirmed cases, adding: “Amazon’s corporate management has consistently responded with delay tactics and incoherent plans that do not rise to the urgency of the pandemic.”
Yet another group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice is calling on Amazon tech workers to join them for a “mass sickout” on Friday April 24.
Amazon has as usual denied the figures given to the press by the organisations suggesting they are “grossly exaggerated.”
An Amazon spokesperson told Tech Crunch: “Already today more than 250,000 people have come to work today, even more than last week to serve their communities.
“We couldn’t be more grateful and proud for their efforts during this time. The union organizers claims are also simply false – what’s true is that masks, temperature checks, hand sanitizer, increased time off, increased pay, and more are standard across our network because we care deeply about the health and safety of our employees.
“We encourage anyone to compare the health and safety measures Amazon has taken, and the speed of their implementation, during this crisis with other retailers.”
This comes after Amazon sacked two employees, who had worked for the company for over 15 years, for “repeatedly violating internal policies” which require employees to receive prior approval from management before saying anything about the company’s practices publicly.
Both employees had been publicly vocal about the retailer’s policies regarding worker safety in its warehouses.
Amazon has also been forced to close all its warehouses in France after a landmark court order demanded the retailer cease all non-essential deliveries.
The online retailer could now be fined up to €1 million for every day it does not comply with the court order.