Amazon staff to get £300 Christmas bonus but activists “gravely concerned” warehouses will become infection hotspots


Amazon staff working over the Christmas period will receive a £300 payout this year, but workers are afraid busy facilities will become COVID-19 hotspots.

Amazon has announced plans to roll out a $500 million (£374 million) global bonus package for all of its employees working between December 1 and December 31.

Full time staff in the UK will receive a £300 bonus, while part-time staff will receive £150 bringing Amazon’s total global spend on special bonuses and incentives to $2.5 billion (£1.84 billion) this year.

Despite Amazon’s generosity, a new damning report from human rights charity Amnesty International has claimed that its staff are being “pressured and frightened into going into work in unsafe conditions”

The report detailed how Amazon employees in the UK, France, Poland and the US were subjected to surveillance, including the monitoring of their social media profiles, in order to prevent workers unionising and bargaining with their employer.

It also highlighted the retailer’s health and safety track record, alleging that it had failed to engage on vital health and safety issues and had fired a number of individuals in the US who raised concerns.

READ MORE: Amazon sellers fined and forced to refund customers $23,000 after price gouging hand sanitiser

“We are gravely concerned that the Black Friday rush could turn Amazon warehouses into hotspots for infection”, Amnesty International’s UK director Kate Allen said.

“Despite known outbreaks of Covid-19, workers are being pressured and frightened into going into work in unsafe conditions, and unions are being intimidated and prevented from helping.

“Aggressive productivity targets mean social distancing rules cannot be effectively implemented, putting the lives of those working in Amazon warehouses at serious risk.

“It is time Amazon realised that the consumer-friendly image it presents to the world is out of kilter with its appalling treatment of workers and with what its customers would expect from any responsible company.”

In response to the report, Amazon told The Independent that it “provides some of the most advanced workplaces of their kind in the world, with industry-leading pay, processes and systems to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all employees.”

“We respect our employees’ right to join, form or not to join a labour union or other lawful organisation of their own selection, without fear of retaliation, intimidation or harassment.

“Across Amazon, including in our operations facilities, we place enormous value on having daily conversations with each associate and work to make sure direct engagement with our employees is a strong part of our work culture.”

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