Amazon CEO reportedly says company could improve treatment of workers

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Andy Jassy spoke at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle.

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As Amazon presents itself as a business striving to become the “best employer on earth”, its new CEO reportedly said on Tuesday there was room for improvement. Andy Jassy called the company’s botched rollout of COVID-19 leave policies in 2020 a failure on Amazon’s part, according to a CNBC report.

The remarks were made at the GeekWire Summit which was held both virtually and in person in Seattle. Jassy said Amazon’s 1.2 million employees were like a “small country” before noting that the two-week COVID-19 leave had not worked for some employees, some of whom were reportedly threatened with dismissal even though they had requested time off.

“During the pandemic in our distribution centers, we had a system and a process for people to request short and long term leave and the process just hasn’t evolved,” Jassy said. Adding that the company had no plans to use its HR tools during a pandemic, Jassy said: “It didn’t work out the way we wanted it to.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Amazon is currently facing increased monitoring of its work practices. The National Council for Labor Relations has ruled as well-founded complaints that the company retaliates against workers who organize for better working conditions. Deposit workers voted not to unionize in April, and now an NRLB official is wondering if Amazon acted so blatantly in the vote that the results should be discarded and the election redone.

Reports have shown Amazon workers have fallen through the cracks in the early months of the pandemic, some lose their job due to technical problems. A worker who was seriously ill with COVID continued to receive notifications about his return to work date, his wife told The New York Times.

Jassy did not go into details of what was wrong with the company’s leave policies or name other areas where Amazon could improve. In general, “There are a lot of things you could do better,” Jassy said.


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