Amazon staff join US gig workers strike, 'speak up' against work conditions

Warehouse, delivery and retail workers in the United States went on strike on Monday to draw attention to the safety and wages of those facing the coronavirus crisis.

Among the strikers were some of the roughly 200,000 workers at the online grocery delivery company Instacart, according to strike organizer Gig Workers Collective, founded earlier this year by Instacart worker Vanessa Bain.

Fifteen workers from an Amazon.com Inc. warehouse in Staten Island, New York, also left work Monday after reports from COVID-19 among facility staff.

Amazon later said it fired an employee who helped organize the action for alleged job violations, including leaving quarantine workers paid to participate in the protest. The New York attorney general said his office “was considering all legal options” in response to the layoff, citing the right to organize in the state.

Workers also demonstrated in other countries. Dozens of Amazon workers at a factory near Florence, Italy, went on strike on Monday.

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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said last week that the pressure on Amazon employees to work despite insufficient protections was “unacceptable”.

From delivery drivers to grocery clerks, window dressers and fast food workers, workers kept food and essentials available to people who were asked by their government to stay at home to stop the spread. coronavirus.

More than 738,500 people have been infected worldwide and around 35,000 have died, according to a Reuters count.

Amazon, the World’s Largest Online Retailer, Said It Has Taken “Extreme Measures” To Clean Buildings And Obtain Security Equipment And “The Large Majority Of Employees Continue To Show Up And Do Heroic Delivery Work for customers every day. ” Less than half a percent of its 5,000 employees at the Staten Island site protested, he added.

In statements Monday, Amazon challenged comments from one of Staten Island’s striking employees, Christian Smalls, who accused the company of mismanaging warehouse operations after a confirmed case of coronavirus.

Amazon said Smalls was in paid quarantine after being in close contact with a diagnosed worker and that he “received several warnings for breaking social distancing rules”, which led to his dismissal.

Smalls responded in a statement distributed by Athena, a labor and activist coalition.

“I will continue to speak. My colleagues in New York and across the country will continue to speak. We will not stop until Amazon provides real protections for our health and safety,” he said. he declares.

Letitia James, the New York attorney general, issued a statement calling the dismissal “shameful” and also asked the National Labor Relations Board to investigate. Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment on the attorney general’s statement.

Risk premium, disinfectant

San Francisco-based Instacart – which allows customers to place orders online at grocers, retailers like Costco Wholesale Corp and CVS Pharmacy CVS Pharmacy – said in a statement that its contractors’ strike had ” absolutely no impact on Instacart’s operations. “

Instacart said on Monday that it had 40% more customers on the platform than the same day last week and that it had sold more groceries than ever before.

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“The health and safety of our entire community – buyers, customers and employees – is our first priority,” he said in a statement.

The number of Instacart workers participating in the strike was unclear, Bain told Reuters. Bain created a Facebook group with 15,000 members. She said hundreds of others had contacted her in light of Monday’s campaign.

In social media posts, people who claimed to be Instacart workers demanded a risk premium to account for workplace hazards while most people stay home to comply with state government guidelines , local and federal.

They also asked the company to provide hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and soap to clean their cell phones, cars and shopping carts.

“We don’t need to have a 100% stake to … force Instacart to maneuver on these issues,” Bain said in a telephone interview.

Instacart said on March 23 that it wants to hire 300,000 more workers because of a surge in demand.

Staff at a French retailer Carrefour supermarket will receive protective masks after some have avoided health risks, a union said on Monday.

Employees of McDonald’s Corp, as well as people who said they worked for Walmart Inc, the Harris Teeter supermarket chain, Waffle House, Family Dollar and Food Lion, boycotted work in North Carolina on Friday.

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