Amazon raises overtime pay for warehouse workers

Daniel Fowler
March 23, 2020

"This isn't business as usual, and it's a time of great stress and uncertainty". "Much of the essential work we do can not be done from home". Bezos said, "People all over the world feel the economic effects of the crisis".

Any failure of Amazon to keep its workers safe does not just put their employees at risk, it puts the entire country at risk.

Amazon has been flooded with orders since the virus began spreading across the United States, as residents have been stocking up on household essentials and other basic goods. A the same time, other businesses like restaurants and bars are being forced to shut their doors. "We hope people who've been laid off will come work with us until they're able to go back to the jobs they had".

Amazon on Saturday announced hourly workers in its USA delivery network would received double pay for every hour they work in excess of 40 each week, effective March 15 through May 9.

This is the second time the e-commerce giant announced an improvement in pay for its workers (file image) in a week. It has also staggered workers shifts and prohibited them from sitting next to each other in the lunchroom to limit contact. "My list of worries right now like yours", Bezos said in a company blog post late Saturday.

Bezos also said that the company has ordered "millions" of face masks for its warehouse workers to utilize down the line. However, few of those orders have been filled to date because "masks remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics".

NSW Premier moves to shut down 'non-essential' services
Yesterday 67 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed - bringing the total number of cases in Victoria to 296. Under the State of Emergency people who don't comply with a directive could receive a fine of up to $20,000.

Also on Friday, four Democratic senators, led by Cory Booker of New Jersey, wrote to Bezos asking that the company implement more aggressive safety measures and offer more hazard pay to its employees. Adweek spoke to one warehouse worker who said, for example, the company recommended what kind of masks they should wear, but was not providing those masks.

Bezos said he is now "wholly focused on COVID-19" and "how Amazon can best play its role".

Since much of this work can not be done from home Amazon has implemented a series of preventative health measures for its employees and contractors at its sites across the world. Amazon closed a warehouse in NY after a worker was positively tested for COVID-19.

Because the virus spreads throughout the U.S., a number of clothes retailers and department-store chains have shut shops and cafe and restaurant operators have closed down or restricted companies to supply and take-away.

Rival retailer Walmart Inc said on Thursday it plans to hire 150,000 hourly associates in the U.S. and announced US$550 million in cash bonuses to reward workers. With 83 reported deaths, it has the highest Corona virus mortality rate after NY and California.

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