Amid a drastic COVID-19-associated economic slowdown, with many smaller businesses being ground to a standstill, retail giants like Amazon continue to operate as usual. However, staffers complain they are running unnecessary risks as Amazon, they say, doesn’t deliver essential products, contrary to its earlier vows, but something different.
Amazon said it is “working around the clock to ensure we continue to provide essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic”, per a 17 March statement, although quite a few Amazon staffers say the promise is far from being met, Business Insider wrote.
The firm’s numerous shipments, they reported, largely don’t include any staple goods, but are packed with whatever clients order at this challenging time.
For instance, one inbound associate from Houston, Texas, recalled scanning in rhinestones, keto diet food, and dog brushes as late as last week.
“But from what I can see on my end, I’m not seeing the essentials. I don’t see paper towels, or clorox wipes, or bleach”, she told the media outlet, suggesting at the same time that this is due to Amazon’s scarce (if any at all) stock of these goods.
“Essentials aren’t really available in the warehouse”, she added.
While packaging items to be shipped around the country to customers, two outbound associates — one in Phoenix, Arizona, and another in Hazleton, Pennsylvania — reported sorting through a variety of sex toys such as nipple clamps and dildos, or sunglasses. One Amazon customer had recently ordered 392 different kinds of nipple clamps, a worker recounted, lamenting that he had to package such orders even as an employee at a nearby building tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
One of the cited Amazon employees shared that she had started to keep track of what she was delivering to customers after the 17 March announcement, claiming the contents of the orders placed after the date were a far cry from being essential:
“In one day, I had a home hand spa, glittery girl dolls, a dollhouse, Xbox games, and racecar tracks”, the 47-year-old recalled to Business Insider. She said she hadn’t delivered medical kits, or household disinfection supplies or groceries in the time that followed the announcement.
While Amazon considers its online commerce services among those heroically staying open, employees feel that the company is unnecessarily putting their lives at risk at this turbulent point in time.
“Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis”, Kristen Kish, a spokesperson for Amazon told Business Insider boasting that they have nearly 500,000 people in the US alone supporting customers and that they “are taking measures to support each one”.
Meanwhile, per an employee from Arizona, the company is hypocritical because it doesn’t undertake sufficient measures to protect its workers.
“They call us heroes in the media but treat us like freed slaves that have no other choice to work for the same master for little pay and same crappy conditions”, the staffer told Business Insider.
Employees even called Amazon facilities a “breeding ground” for the coronavirus infection, as hundreds or even thousands of workers are packed into a warehouse at a time, which means social distancing is just “impossible” there. Hygienic measures are hardly applicable either, according to them, due to a scarce supply of hand sanitisers and cleaning products in the workplaces, the magazine reported.
Some said that confirmed COVID-19 cases at several warehouses were not sufficient grounds for their management to temporarily close them down for a decent clean-up and disinfection despite multiple employee requests.
The sweeping COVID-19 epidemic that has been raging across the globe for the past few months has caused a severe economic crisis, and paralysed well-established logistical routes. According to the WHO, more than 1,130,000 have contracted the disease, with US cases topping 273,000.