March 18 (UPI) — As more Americans choose to work from home to prevent new coronavirus infections, they are ordering basic necessities, including food, medicine, cleaning supplies and toilet paper, on Amazon,media reported. The unexpected surge in demand has prompted Amazon to plan to hire 100,000 more warehouse staff and raise hourly wages by $2 by the end of April.
But many employees say Amazon is creating a potential public health crisis internally while meeting the needs of the countless customers currently in self-segregation and ensuring greater public interest. Workers say they are concerned that the company is not doing enough to prevent the virus from spreading through hundreds of distribution centers, sorting centers and delivery stations across the United States.
As of Monday night, more than 1,500 employees on Amazon had signed a petition asking them to pay 1.5 times hazard pay, provide paid sick leave and paid parental leave to all employees, suspend productivity-based performance penalties, and close any facilities where employees are infected with the new coronavirus.
While hand sanitizers and sanitized wipes are still available today, some Amazon employees claim they are in short supply, others complain that protective masks are hard to buy and that the warehouse does not do any extra cleaning and disinfection. Others point out that managers continue to insist on meetings held before each shift, and workers are concerned because it can be dangerous to gather dozens of employees in a confined space for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
“Many of us feel that Amazon simply ignores our health threats,” said an anonymous employee at the Amazon distribution center in Gloucester County, New Jersey. It’s a company with a market capitalisation of trillions of dollars, but it’s hard to give us something to clean. “
In addition, Amazon said last week that unwell hourly workers in the U.S. can take unlimited unpaid leave, prompting more workers to choose to stay at home to avoid infection or take care of their children. The consequent shortage of staff has increased the pressure on those who choose to continue working, with in some places even reducing the number of employees by as much as half.
In response, an Amazon spokesman said in a statement: “The vast majority of our employees around the world continue to work in a way that very few people can, serving the people of the community and delivering critical supplies directly to the doorsteps of those who need them.” We will make every effort to keep the warehouse clean and provide preventive measures to our employees, such as maintaining a safe distance. “
To help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, Amazon also performs so-called intensive cleaning of its facilities, provides hand sanitizer and encourages employees to wash their hands frequently. In some areas, Amazon has suspended security checks to help maintain safe distances. Some facilities also allow employees to carry their mobile phones with them for the first time in case family members contact them in an emergency. (Small)