‘It’s retaliation’: Amazon worker says he was fired for organizing protest against unsafe working conditions
Employees work at the site of the online retailer Amazon (AFP)

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Amazon has fired a process manager who helped organize a walkout at the company's warehouse in Staten Island to protest the working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"About 50 workers walked out Monday, according to Chris Smalls, a worker at the warehouse who helped organize the action," wrote Nitasha Tiku and Jay Greene. "Amazon, which is trying to hire 100,000 workers to address the crush of coronavirus-related orders, disputed that figure as well as the complaints that it’s not doing enough to protest workers. Only 15 employees participated in the demonstration out of 5,000 who work at the warehouse, Amazon spokeswoman Lisa Levandowski said in an emailed statement."

The report continued: "At the end of the workday, Amazon fired Smalls, a process assistant who worked for the company for five years. A manager at the warehouse told Smalls he’d been terminated for violating a quarantine, since he’d been in contact with a co-worker who tested positive for the virus. Until Monday afternoon, though, Amazon hadn’t warned him about not showing up to work, he said. 'They are trying to silence me for speaking up on behalf of the people,' Smalls said Monday afternoon. 'It’s retaliation.'"

Amazon has stood to gain business from the pandemic, as people increasingly look to deliveries to help them practice social distancing. But workers in at least 29 Amazon facilities around the country have tested positive for COVID-19, and workers are demanding that the company provide them with paid time off to protect them. Amazon insists that it is taking steps to protect the health and safety of their employees.

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