US Senators Require Amazon To Answer Questions About Warehouse Worker Safety

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The world's largest online retailer is increasing hourly workers' wages in the United States by 15% to meet the growing demand from consumers stranded at home.

Also on Friday, four Democratic senators, led by Cory Booker of New Jersey, wrote to Bezos asking that the company implement more aggressive safety measures and offer more hazard pay to its employees.

Hourly workers at Amazon's USA warehouses will receive double pay after 40 hours for overtime, up from the 1.5-times rate, from March 15 through May 9, the rate increase announcement said.

"The reason we're seeing [an increase in] cases is likely because they believe it's not only respiratory transmission, but it's starting to aerosolize, which is why so many health care workers are getting it because it stays in the air longer". Bezos said, "People all over the world feel the economic effects of the crisis".

Since much of this work can not be done from home Amazon has implemented a series of preventative health measures for its employees and contractors at its sites across the world.

He encourages those who have been laid off as a result of the pandemic to consider working for Amazon.

The lawmakers specifically asked about reports that the tech behemoth was continuing to hold "stand-up" meetings with dozens of staff crowded into a room, that proper cleaning supplies were lacking at many warehouses, and that workers weren't being given enough time on breaks to practice good hygiene.

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Amazon will be raising the overtime pay rates for its warehouse workers, according to a Saturday announcement from e-commerce giant.

The letter follows cries from US lawmakers and his own employees that the world's largest online retailer isn't doing enough to protect its warehouse workers and delivery drivers who endanger themselves delivering products to Amazon customers looking to avoid stores. They also clustered workers shifts and even prohibit workers to sit next to each other during lunch shifts.

He also said the company is trying to secure face masks for employees who can not work from home. Senators sent the letter two days after the first US -based Amazon warehouse worker tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

"Masks remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics", he added. "When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people".

Several clothing retailers and department-store chains have shut stores and cafe and restaurant operators have closed down or limited services to delivery and take-away.

Rival retailer Walmart Inc said on Thursday it plans to hire 150,000 hourly associates in the USA and announced $550 million in cash bonuses to reward workers.

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