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Amazon shareholders are demanding an independent audit of how the business handles its employees

Image: TheStreet

A group of Amazon shareholders has submitted a resolution urging the board of directors to commission an independent assessment on the company’s workplace health and safety, citing recent attention on its workers’ working conditions.

The audit will be carried out with the help of Amazon workers and specialists in workplace safety and surveillance, according to the resolution.

“As Amazon strives to be ‘the Earth’s Safest Place to Work,’ a review is needed of the practices that have made the company a leader in workplace injuries and a target for criticism and regulation,” the shareholders’ resolution reads. “With surveillance and productivity quotas linked to high injury rates, we urge Amazon to commission an independent audit of these practices.”

If Amazon does not object, the proposal will be voted on by shareholders at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in May.

Domini Impact Investments, which submitted the resolution, has Mary Beth Gallagher as its director of engagement. She believes Amazon’s business model, as well as its high turnover and injury rates, should be evaluated.

During the hearing, Gallagher cited several safety concerns and difficulties made regarding Amazon facilities, as well as the deaths of six individuals at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois that was devastated by a tornado on December 10th.

In a statement emailed to The Verge, Gallagher claimed that all of the occurrences “have raised significant issues and prompted scrutiny from politicians, regulators, and the public.”

Domini wants the audit to look at “how staff productivity measurements and monitoring lead to a less safe and stable work environment,” according to her.

Courtenay Brown, the head of the workers’ group United for Respect and a worker at an Amazon Fresh warehouse in New Jersey, testified before Congress on December 7th regarding working conditions at her facility. She claims to organise up to 50,000 items for delivery every day, working in temperatures as low as minus ten degrees Fahrenheit.

There are limited possibilities for breaks because the warehouse is understaffed. Workers are also watched from the minute they pull into the parking area, according to her.

“We risk being disciplined if we fall behind in any way during our 11-hour shift,” Brown stated before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth. “We’ve been pushed to the point where we can’t even go to the bathroom on a routine basis.” To avoid getting in trouble, we frequently have to dash to and from the restroom in under two minutes.”

The audit should analyse the company’s productivity quotas, monitoring techniques, and the consequences of these measures on injury rates and turnover, according to the shareholders.

Gallagher says her company’s hope is that a thorough evaluation “will produce corporate policy changes that make workplaces safer for associates and cement Amazon as the industry leader in health and safety it states it wants to be.”

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