As Amazon works to improve their employee safeguarding against coronavirus, the damage may already have been done.
Amazon has faced some criticism recently. Unlike many other companies struggling to stay afloat or going bust, Amazon has actually had to expand its workforce in order to increase its demand and focus its energy on logistics and international delivery.
However, in the process they have faced backlash against seemingly unsafe work practices. For example, during their hiring boom a couple of weeks ago, they defied the guidelines of governments by packing groups of up to 70 people in one room. In order to host job fairs, they played fast and loose with the basic sanitation rules. The job fair was reportedly like every job fair before it; that is, with no special precautions or adjustments made for the Coronavirus pandemic.
Amazon is hiring over 100,000 new employees. Specifically, they are focusing on delivery and warehouse workers to meet the increased demand during the pandemic. They have also increased their hourly wages by $2 an hour for the rest of April. This is across employees in delivery centres, warehouses and shop-floors of Whole Foods stores across the states. These workers already make around $15 an hour.
Amazon has been accused of prioritising capital above the basic safety of their warehouse staff. These employees are having to handle and pack thousands of goods on a daily basis as well as processing returns. This is putting themselves at risk by constantly coming into contact with things that other people have touched. This is especially concerning as more and more cases are confirmed worldwide. Now, there has been an unignorable call of action across the US and Europe for the company to improve their working conditions.
Coronavirus Testing Lab
Now the retail giant is building its own coronavirus testing lab in order to monitor staff help. Unfortunately this comes after over 50 Amazon facilities in the US alone have reported cases of Coronavirus.
They are already distributing masks to employees and carrying out regular temperature checks. They aim to increase the regularity of these temperature checks, including for those employees showing no symptoms. As the testing resources are limited, they are dedicating a team of employees specifically for the development of an internal testing facility. Given the timeframe, these precautions may be too late but they insist that it is “worth trying”. Even with these increased safety measures, at least one Amazon facility is under investigation by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration for negligence of safeguarding employees.