The e-commerce giant, Amazon, has apologized to an American lawmaker after falsely denying that some of its drivers are sometimes forced to pee in plastic bottles.
The controversy began last week with a tweet from Mark Buchan, a Democrat from Wisconsin.
Buchan tweeted, in a clear reference to Amazon’s opposition to efforts to create a union for a major facility in Alabama, “Paying $ 15 an hour to workers doesn’t make you a“ progressive workplace ”when you mess up the union and make workers pee in water bottles.
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The official Amazon account quickly replied, “You don’t really believe peeing in bottles, right? If it’s true, nobody will work with us.”
But many news media then cited several Amazon employees who said that, in fact, they were left with little choice but to use plastic bottles.
The Intercept website said it had obtained internal documents showing that Amazon executives were aware of the practice.
Worker testimony confirmed the complaints of many Amazon employees – both in processing facilities and among its drivers – about what they say is a relentless pace of work.
“We owe an apology to actor Buchan,” Amazon said in a statement late Friday.
“The tweet was incorrect. He did not think about our large number of drivers and instead focused only wrongly on our fulfillment centers,” which, he said, each contain dozens of bathrooms that employees can use “at any time”.
Amazon continued: “We know drivers can have a hard time finding restrooms due to traffic or sometimes rural roads, and this was especially the case during Covid when many public restrooms were closed.”
She described the problem as a “long-standing, industry-wide problem”, adding, “We would like to solve it.”
Buchan, who responded Saturday on Twitter, did not accept the apology, saying:
“Sigh. This is not about me, it is about your workers – whom you are not treating with enough respect or dignity.
“Start by acknowledging the unfavorable working conditions that you have created for all of your workers, then fix that for everyone and finally let them join unions without interference.”
Workers at Amazon’s massive processing facility in Bessemer, Alabama, completed a vote on Monday whether to join a union – an initiative the company has vehemently resisted. The result has not yet been announced.
Amazon has successfully fended off union efforts elsewhere in the United States, even though most of its European facilities are union affiliates.
The company insists that its workers enjoy good wages and benefits by American standards.