Amazon Ends Emergency Incentives
Amazon's massive spike in online orders amid the pandemic forced them to hire 250,000 workers. The company offered emergency incentives to draw these workers in and to keep existing employees working. However, the company has now ended some of these incentives while the pandemic rages on, according to Business Insider.
Employees have reported that the virus has spread in warehouses in the US and Europe. On Monday, Amazon eliminated the $2 an hour pay increase that was given to employees that chose to come into work during the crisis. In April, it eliminated a policy allowing workers to take an unlimited amount of unpaid time off if they felt unsafe. The US has become the center of the virus with 1.8 million confirmed cases and more than 105,000 deaths.
Eight Amazon workers have died from the virus and over 100 have confirmed cases. The company has refused to publish data on the number of cases. Amazon workers aren't that upset about the elimination of the additional $2. "The $2 an hour won't have much effect on my life — I find kind of laughable," one New Jersey worker said. "There are others though who can really use it and with the present circumstances they should actually be increasing it instead of taking it away."
"To thank employees and help meet increased demand, we've paid our team and partners nearly $800 million extra since COVID-19 started while continuing to offer full benefits from day one of employment," said an Amazon spokeswoman. "With demand stabilized, we've returned to our industry-leading starting wage of $15 an hour. We're proud that our minimum wage is more than what most others offer even after their temporary increases in recent months, and we hope they'll do the right thing for the long term and bring their minimum pay closer to ours."
When an employee tested positive, a text was sent saying that there was a confirmed case in the warehouse. "They just notify us of a new case but don't provide what shift or department involved," a Tennessee warehouse worker said. "They say they reach out to people they can verify via camera who were close to the infected person."
Meanwhile, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos' net worth is approaching $150 billion.