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As Allegations of Mistreatment and Unsafe Conditions Mount, Amnesty International Declares It Stands With Amazon Workers

"Amazon is one of the world's wealthiest companies and its profits are surging as a result of this crisis. It is repugnant that the company's workforce feel their safety is not being taken seriously."

Amazon employees hold a protest and walkout over conditions at the company's Staten Island distribution facility on March 30, 2020 in New York City.

Amazon employees hold a protest and walkout over conditions at the company's Staten Island distribution facility on March 30, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Human rights advocacy group Amnesty International on Friday demanded online retail giant Amazon start prioritizing the health and safety of its workers around the planet as the company experiences massive demand from a world largely still in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Amazon is one of the world's wealthiest companies and its profits are surging as a result of this crisis," Amnesty researcher Joe Westby said in a statement. "It is repugnant that the company's workforce feel their safety is not being taken seriously."

As Common Dreams reported, Amazon has cracked down of late on workers at its facilities lobbying for better working conditions. The company has also used high tech attempts to monitor labor unrest at its grocery store Whole Foods. These attacks on workers, said Amnesty, cannot be allowed to continue.

“Allegations that staff have been fired for speaking out are deeply disturbing," Westby said. "No Amazon worker should face reprisals for speaking out about safety concerns. Amazon must ensure that workers can report concerns about health and safety risks without fear of retaliation."

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Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, has seen his personal wealth increase by $24 billion since the pandemic began spreading across the globe in January. 

The retailer's move to cut costs further by rescinding the right to take unlimited leave related to the disease as the first wave of the outbreak begins to ever-so-slightly recede, said Westby, is another example of Amazon's poor treatment of staff.

"It's outrageous that Amazon is set to end its policy to give workers the option to take unlimited unpaid leave, which was just instituted in March," Westby said. "With reports of new COVID-19 cases emerging at warehouses in Indiana and New Jersey, employees face an impossible choice of potentially putting their health at serious risk by going to work or having to leave the company."

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