Amazon announces $500 million in bonuses but protests continue

Amazon announces $500 million in bonuses but protests continue
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E-commerce giant Amazon is spending an additional $500 million on bonuses for employees as protests against its practices continue.

On the eve of Black Friday, Amazon announced that it will spend another $500 million on bonuses as employee protests against the company continue in Germany and other parts of the world as it prepares for the shopping weekend.

Additional bonuses at Amazon and current issues

According to Dave Clark, senior vice president for worldwide operations at Amazon, a $300 bonus will be given to front-line US employees while $150 will be allotted for part-time employees.

Meanwhile, Amazon workers in the UK will receive bonuses of £300 and £150 for full-time and part-time, respectively.

Clark said the e-commerce company will allocate $2.5 billion this year on “special bonuses and incentives” for teams globally, which includes the “thank you” bonus it paid workers in June.

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Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon was one of the few firms that continued to thrive despite the situation. In the fourth quarter, the firm is forecasting revenues of over $100 billion for the first time, increasing its total sales to over $370 billion, which was 33% higher compared to 2019.

This pandemic success has prompted unions and civil society groups to call on Amazon to go beyond its commitments to workers and the environment. Worker compensation and safety, along with the firm’s carbon footprint and tax practices, are among the issues being raised by these groups.

UNI Global Union general secretary Christy Hoffman said: “It is great that workers are getting more this holiday season, [but] it is not enough.” UNI Global Union is among those that signed the “Make Amazon Pay” petition.

“To show it values its workforce, Amazon should collectively bargain wages and conditions with workers throughout its operations, rather than make one time unilateral gestures of appreciation,” she added.

Trade union Verdi has called on for a three-day strike at seven of Amazon’s fulfillment centers in Germany, one of Amazon’s biggest markets in Europe. The union is demanding the e-commerce company to give recognition to a collective labor agreement that covers wages, bonuses and paid time off.

On the other hand, Amazon claimed that the strike in Germany won’t affect customer deliveries because it there are 26,000 employees, including 10,000 seasonal workers.

Stephan Eichenseher, a company spokesperson, pointed out: “The overwhelming majority of employees are doing their every day job. The fact is we already offer excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment.”

Other worker-related news at Amazon

Earlier this month, a US District Judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by workers against Amazon over its alleged lack of coronavirus safety precautions.

Judge Brian Cogan dismissed the worker lawsuit, arguing that the coronavirus safety issues should be taken up with the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In his November 1 decision, Judge Brian Cogan explained that the workers’ claims and proposed injunctive relief “go to the heart of OSHA’s expertise and discretion.”

Cogan wrote: “This case concerns state and federal guidance addressing workplace safety during a pandemic for which there is no immediate end in sight. Regulating in the age of Covid-19 is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter fraught with medical and scientific uncertainty. There is room for significant disagreement as to the necessity or wisdom of any particular workplace policy or practice.”

Back in August, the company announced its plan to hire 3,500 additional workers in cities across the US as part of its expansion initiative amidst the pandemic.

In a blog post, Amazon said the additional workers will be added to its efforts in cloud computing, advertising, smart assistants and grocery delivery, among other areas.

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