November 29, 2023

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'Immoral and inhumane': New York to probe Amazon after it sacked warehouse worker who led strike

Lelita James, the Attorney General, said in an email to Business Insider on Monday that Amazon had acted disgracefully.

“It is disgraceful that Amazon would terminate an employee who bravely stood up to protect himself and his colleagues,” said Ms James.

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She added: “at a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling and are deeply concerned about their safety, this action was also immoral and inhumane.”

The New York attorney confirmed that she had called on the National Labor Relations Board to open an investigation into the incident.

Ms James continued: “In New York, the right to organise is codified into law, and any retaliatory action by management related thereto is strictly prohibited,”

Warehouse workers at the Amazon centre at Staten Island carried-out a day-long strike on Monday, as employees called on the company to respond to a rise in coronavirus cases at the facility.

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Amazon worker Christian Smalls said that senior warehouse staff had not engaged with calls for the Staten Island site to be closed for sterilisation.

“Amazon would rather fire workers than face up to its total failure to do what it should to keep us, our families, and our communities safe,” he also said in a statemnt. “I am outraged and disappointed, but I’m not shocked. As usual, Amazon would rather sweep a problem under the rug than act to keep workers and working communities safe.”

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It comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York passed 66,000.

In a statement, Amazon denied that Mr Smalls had been fired on Monday night because of his involvement in the mass walkout. They instead accused of him of breaking quarantine and said that was the cause of his dismissal.

“Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came onsite today, March 30, further putting the teams at risk,” the spokesperson said. “This is unacceptable and we have terminated his employment as a result of these multiple safety issues.”

The company has come under increased pressure as it attempts to meet delivery demands during the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers at Amazon sites around the world, including in France and Italy, have walked out in recent weeks in criticism of current working conditions

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