Monday, October 25, 2021

Amazon wants to test all – even asymptomatic – employees for COVID-19

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos attends the Axel Springer Awards 2018, in Berlin, Germany, 24 April 2018. EFE

San Francisco, Apr 16 (EFE).- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday announced that he wants to provide Covid-19 tests for all the firm’s employees around the world, even those who are not showing any symptoms, after being accused of not doing enough to ensure their safety.

In his annual letter to stockholders, Bezos said that the firm has already started building “incremental testing capacity” and setting up the first laboratory where “soon” Covid-19 tests will be provided to “small numbers of our frontline employees” working in warehouses and distribution.

“A next step in protecting our employees might be regular testing of all Amazonians, including those showing no symptoms,” Bezos wrote.

The Amazon CEO went on to say that “Regular testing on a global scale, across all industries, would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running. … For this to work, we as a society would need vastly more testing capacity than is currently available.”

Bezos also reported that the company is working with the authorities to inform them of potential cases of vendors who are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to make otherwise unwarranted hikes in their prices, adding that the tech and online sales giant has rejected 500,000 offers and closed 6,000 accounts for that reason.

Amazon has seen an unprecedented increase in its business since the pandemic erupted and governments all over the world implemented stay-home orders, moves that have closed brick and mortar stores and have eliminated a large part of the online platform’s competition.

In the United States alone, the Seattle-based firm – which reportedly has some 800,000 employees around the world – in recent weeks has hired 100,000 new workers to respond to the increased demand and has announced that it will hire 75,000 more.

Simultaneously, the firm has been beset by controversy due to public complaints from several employees that it is not doing enough to guarantee their safety and health, and an avalanche of criticism has fallen on Amazon for firing or taking reprisals against some of those workers.

These cases, along with the fact that at least 74 Amazon warehouses and other installations in the US have reported coronavirus cases among the workers there, have led several lawmakers to write a letter to the firm asking for explanations.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, ordered an investigation opened into the firing of an Amazon worker who organized a protest at one of the firm’s warehouses.