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Amazon allegedly forced workers to remain on duty during a tornado, ultimately leading to six deaths

Amazon is under investigation for cruel labour practices that forced six workers to remain in its Edwardsville, Illinois, warehouse during an impending tornado in December 2021, which later claimed their lives. 

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform launched the investigation into Amazon’s policy concerning severe weather conditions. They sought evidence that would condemn the company in a court of law, and they kicked it off with a letter requesting ‘documents and communication records’ from Amazon.

In the letter, Amazon was accused of threatening to fire employees who left duty during the tornado because they would not consider such actions as being for their safety.

One driver revealed to Bloomberg that her dispatcher repeatedly denied her request to return to the warehouse for safety or even stop working. Only when the situation became severe did the dispatcher tell her to shelter in place for 15 to 20 minutes, and then she should continue delivery as ‘normal.’

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Amazon’s statement to Bloomberg was that this was not the company’s stance. “…under no circumstance should the dispatcher have threatened the driver’s employment,” it added.

Further details showed that the Illinois situation is neither isolated nor new. Part of the letter sent to the company includes requests as to what Amazon instructed workers to do during the California wildfires, Washington and Oregon heatwaves, and hurricanes in 2017 and 2018. They requested it because there were speculations that the company had the same’ keep working’ mentality during these events.

CEO Jeff Bezos had quickly released a statement following the December 2021 event assuring ‘all of Edwardsville’ that the company would support them through the crisis.

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Onwuasoanya Obinna

A reader of books and stringer of words. Passionate about Science and Tech. When not writing or reading he is surfing the web and Tweeting.