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Coronavirus: Amazon to stop its hazard pay increase for frontline employees at end of May
The e-commerce giant announced mid-March frontline employees would receive an additional $2 per hour
Amazon will drop its hazard pay raise for frontline staff at the end of May, despite warehouse workers saying it’s too soon.
The e-commerce giant announced in mid-March it would give its workers an increased pay of $2 per hour, among other benefits, as it worked to keep its warehouses open during the coronavirus pandemic.
Initially the raise was expected to end after April, but Amazon extended the pay twice to now end after 31 May. It was announced the company has no intention to further extend the hazard pay into June.
“We’re going to do one more extension on it and push it out until the end of the month,” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, told Recode.
“In addition, we are providing flexibility with leave of absence options, including expanding the policy to cover Covid-19 circumstances, such as high-risk individuals or school closures,” an Amazon spokesperson told the publication. “We continue to see heavy demand during this difficult time and the team is doing incredible work for our customers and the community.”
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to The Independent that the pay increase would not extend through June and said all employees were notified of the extension.
One warehouse employee told Business Insider they thought the end of hazard pay was “too soon”. Another employee claimed they found out about the end of the pay raise through the news media, not through Amazon.
The company experienced an increase in demand for its online services after retail stores were forced to shut down in March as the novel virus spread through the US. In response, the company hired 175,000 additional warehouse employees to address demand.
Besides extending the pay raise through May, an Amazon spokesperson also confirmed the company would continue doubling its overtime pay in the US and Canada until the end of the month, adding the company’s invested an estimated $800m into its hourly employees.
Amazon expected to spend $4bn in total for coronavirus-relief efforts, such as increased wages, providing personal protective equipment, and increasing sanitation efforts in warehouses, according to Bloomberg. But the company has faced backlash from employees who’ve said it has not provided a safe environment for workers during the pandemic.
To make their voices heard, warehouse workers have led protests areas like in New York, Chicago, and Minnesota to demand for better treatment.
“Two weeks of extra pay isn’t close to what we need,” Monica Moody, an Amazon warehouse worker in Charlotte, North Carolina, said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. “At a minimum, hazard pay should be extended for the entire length of this pandemic. If we are putting our lives at risk to pack and deliver Amazon packages, we deserve to be paid for it.”
Corporate employees also spoke out against the company for allegedly attempting to silence workers who protested about poor work conditions and benefits.
The news of Amazon ending its pay raise for hourly employees comes as rumours circulated CEO Jeff Bezos could potentially become the world’s first trillionaire.
Mr Bezos started trending on Twitter Wednesday for claims he could reach the title after a months-old study resurfaced from small business advice platform, Comparisun, stating his net worth could reach $1tn by 2026.
Although Amazon’s stock has skyrocketed amid the coronavirus pandemic, making it one of the few to do so, Forbes does not value the CEO to be even close to reaching trillionaire status.
The publication estimated Mr Bezos has a net worth of $143bn, which surged upwards from his previous worth of $125bn in March because of his 11.3 per cent stake in the e-commerce company.
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