A group of US Senators are demanding answers from Amazon over the safety measures they’ve implemented for their warehouse workers in light of the global COVID-19 crisis.
The pandemic has severely impacted the global economy, but US e-commerce giant Amazon has continued to try and keep its business operational, but as a result has found itself in the crosshairs of a number of Democratic politicians, including Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
US senators Cory Brooker, Bernie Sanders, Bob Menendez and Sherrod Brown have all written to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos requesting him to respond to a series of questions regarding how the company is keeping its warehouse workers safe as COVID-19 continues to engulf many nations across the world.
The letter was sent just two days after Amazon confirmed that a US-based warehouse worker had tested positive for Coronavirus.
“Any failure of Amazon to keep its workers safe does not just put their employees at risk, it puts the entire country at risk,” the group said in the letter. The senators are also asking Amazon to provide paid sick leave and time-and-a-half hazard pay, among other financial and health protections.
In addition to this the letter also highlighted how the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel, which consequentially makes Amazon warehouse workers ‘high risk’ in terms of contracting Coronavirus.
“Americans who are taking every precaution, staying home and practicing social distancing, might risk getting infected with COVID-19 because of Amazon’s decision to prioritise efficiency and profits over the safety and well-being of its workforce.”
The group of US democrats also claimed that workers faced troubling conditions within the Amazon warehouses, and that managers were regularly conducting stand-up meetings with staff that heightened the risk of infection, whilst it was also disclosed that there was a lack of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
However, Amazon vehemently refuted the allegations made against them, and said they were taking ‘extreme measures’ to ensure the safety of their workers and described them as ‘heroes’.
“Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis. Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is not easy as supplies are limited, but we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable. We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances.”