Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sent an open letter to the company’s 800,000 employees on Social Media Instagram on Saturday, local time, warning that the outbreak of new coronavirus pneumonia could worsen. As a result of the outbreak, people on the Amazon platform procurement increased significantly, resulting in a sharp increase in the volume of logistics services.
In this case, U.S. lawmakers and Amazon employees have accused the company of failing to protect its warehouse workers and delivery drivers well during the current outbreak because they could be infected with the virus when they deliver goods to Amazon customers.
“It’s not business as usual, it’s a time of great pressure and uncertainty. “At the same time, this is the most important time for our work,” Bezos wrote in the open letter. “
Bezos’s letter was his first public comment on the outbreak. At this point, lawmakers and regulators across the United States are making decisions about which businesses are essential, should continue to operate, and which should be closed and employees should stay at home to reduce their exposure to the outbreak. The current outbreak has infected more than 300,000 people worldwide and has killed at least 13,000 people.
Amazon has seen a surge in consumer demand to order baby formula, hand sanitizer and medical products online. The company has announced plans to hire 100,000 workers to meet demand and temporarily raise the wages of its warehouse staff, and has instructed its logistics partners to raise wages for their drivers, even though their logistics partners do not work directly for Amazon. Amazon’s main rival, Wal-Mart, is also hiring workers and offering bonuses and benefits to employees.
Both companies have faced criticism from lawmakers, employees and activists for not doing enough to protect hourly workers on the front lines of the outbreak. On Friday, workers from Wal-Mart, Amazon and other major retailers demanded paid leave for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak and for better protection sought from their employers.
Amazon announced Saturday that hourly workers working more than 40 hours a week will be paid double their wages on its U.S. express network, a policy that takes effect from March 15 to May 9. Amazon has previously implemented a $2-an-hour pay rise, which runs until the end of April.
Monica Moody, a 22-year-old Amazon warehouse worker near Charlotte, North Carolina, said she and her colleagues lacked adequate protective gear while on duty. She believes the warehouse should be temporarily closed for disinfection.
Also on Friday, four Democratic senators, led by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, wrote to Bezos asking Amazon to implement more aggressive security measures and provide more subsidies to employees. The letter cites news reports from the past week that front-line workers on Amazon’s logistics network do not have the time or resources to protect themselves because they rush to deliver packages to customers’ doorsteps. Amazon delivery drivers in California have told Bloomberg that their cleaning vans are severely deficient in disinfectant.
Mr Bezos said the company had stepped up cleaning its facilities and required employees to maintain a physical lying distance while meeting daily to address safety issues. But he said getting the necessary equipment remained a challenge. On Wednesday, Amazon saw the first confirmed case of new coronal pneumonia in its logistics system at a delivery station near New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
“We’ve put down millions of mask purchase orders, and we want to give them to employees and contractors who can’t work from home. “Masks are still in short supply globally, and the government is giving priority to high-demand sectors such as hospitals and clinics. Once we have masks, our first priority is to distribute them to our employees and partners. “
Amazon is now one of the three largest U.S. companies by market capitalisation, making Bezos the world’s richest man. Critics say he should have done more.
Dania Rajendra, director of Athena, a group that focuses on hourly workers and small business espresso, said: “Bezos and his company should take real steps to protect the health of the public and workers, starting with the most basic measures, such as providing enough time for workers to wash their hands. Health insurance is provided for everyone who needs it, as well as paid leave. “