Washington: The US government has initiated an investigation into Amazon’s labour rules around severe weather events, as six people died in a tornado strike last year at the company’s warehouse in the state of Illinois.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has sent a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, seeking documents regarding Amazon’s labour practices, particularly during severe weather events.
“We are concerned by recent reports that Amazon may be putting the health and safety of its workers at risk, including by requiring them to work in dangerous conditions during tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather,” said the letter which has been signed by Representatives Carolyn B Maloney (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO).
During the tornado strikes in Edwardsville, Illinois, on December 10 and 11, 2021, six workers died after supervisors at the Amazon facility reportedly threatened employees and contractors with termination if they left work and sought safety during the dangerous storm.
In the days following the storms, allegations surfaced that Amazon employees and contractors were threatened by their supervisors with termination or other adverse employment consequences if they left work to seek adequate shelter and safety as the tornadoes approached.
“As one of our country’s largest and most profitable corporations, it is imperative that Amazon protect workers’ safety and refrain from practices that could put them in danger,” read the letter.
An Amazon spokesperson told The New York Times that the company’s focus “continues to be on supporting our employees and partners, the families who lost loved ones, the surrounding community, and all those affected by the tornadoes”.
“We will respond to this letter in due course.”