Coronavirus: Amazon vice-president quits over virus firings

Coronavirus: Amazon vice-president quits over virus firings

Amazonian protester

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AFP

An Amazon vice president stopped “with dismay” over the Internet giant’s crackdown on workers who criticized her for coronavirus security measures.

Tim Bray described the dismissal of protesters as “evidence of a streak of toxicity across the corporate culture”.

The workers criticized Amazon for not doing enough to protect warehouse personnel from the virus.

Amazon declined to comment, but previously defended its actions.

Bray, who was a senior Amazon Web Services engineer, explained in a blog why he had left the company where he had worked for five years.

The company faces possible investigations into workers’ rights violations in New York, where it fired the organizer of a small protest over security conditions in a warehouse.

Bray said Amazon also fired office staff who were organizing another protest and had filed a lawsuit against the company on climate issues.

“At that point, I shot,” he wrote, adding that he first raised his concerns internally.

“Done that, remaining an Amazon [vice-president] it would have meant, in effect, approving the actions I despised. So I resigned, “he wrote.

Bray said that working at the company was “rewarding fun” and that his decision would cost him financially.

“As far as tech salaries and participation fees are concerned, this will probably cost me over a million dollars (before tax), not to mention the best job I’ve ever had, working with terribly good people. So I’m pretty blue ,” he wrote.

However, he said: “The dismissal of whistleblowers is not just a side effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets.

“It is evidence of a streak of toxicity that runs through the corporate culture. I choose neither to serve nor to drink that poison.”

Amazon declined to comment on Mr Bray’s characterization. When asked earlier about the layoff of office staff, he said he supported his staff’s right to speak, but added: “This does not have general immunity.”

The company found itself faced with renewed control of its business practices as the pandemic pushes the company into overdrive to fill online orders from people in a locked state.

The e-commerce giant temporarily closed its six warehouses in France after a court ordered him to stop all deliveries except the essential ones.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – one of the richest people in the world with a fortune of $ 138 billion – was also asked to speak to the United States Congress as part of a larger investigation into monopoly power.

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Getty Images

Amazon warned investors last week that the pandemic had resulted in costly changes to the business, including spending on protective equipment and adjustments to operations that made its warehouses less efficient.

He said he plans to spend $ 4 billion (£ 3.2 billion) – his expected quarterly profit – on coronavirus measures in the three months to June.

Sales are booming, however, and forecast that sales will rise up to 28% in the current quarter.

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