As many as 100 Amazon workers are planning to walk out of a fulfillment center in New York to protest over concerns of the company’s safety policies regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
A employee for a Staten Island warehouse who helped organize the strike reportedly said that those planning on striking are doing so due to concerns after a co-worker was diagnosed with the virus last week.
He stated that strikers will not return until their demands that Amazon shut down the warehouse for sanitizing are met. They are set to begin their strike at noon on Monday, March 30.
“Since the building won’t close by itself, we’re going to have to force (Amazon’s) hand,” Chris Smalls said to CNBC. “We will not return until the building gets sanitized.”
According to reports, Smalls alleges that the company has not been transparent about how many employees at the Staten Island location have tested positive for COVID-19 and have taken insufficient safety precautions, by allowing at least one co-worker to return to work while awaiting test results for the virus.
In an email, an Amazon spokesperson vehemently refuted the claims against the retail giant.
"These accusations are simply unfounded. Of the more 5,000 employees at our Staten Island site, 15 people—less than half a percent of associates—participated in today’s demonstration. Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis," he said. "Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, 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, changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances and in Staten Island we are now temperature checking everyone entering the facility. The truth is the vast majority of employees continue to show up and do the heroic work of delivering for customers every day."
Rina Cummings, a worker at the warehouse said that employees “are working long, crowded shifts in the epicenter of a global pandemic, and Amazon has failed to provide us with the most basic safeguards,” in a statement. “We are walking out to protest the impossible choice of coming to work at a toxic workplace and possibly spreading the virus or going unpaid during an economic crisis.”
An Amazon spokeswoman told Business Insider that Smalls was "alleging many misleading things.”
"Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable,” she reportedly said. “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.”
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