Amazon.com Inc has reinstated warehouse productivity quotas despite telling a judge it was suspending them during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing a court filing by company workers. The lawsuit claims the company's "oppressive and dangerous" policies violated public-nuisance laws and exacerbated COVID-19 hazards, according to the report.
The employees at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York claimed that Amazon had not been honest and forthcoming with plaintiffs or the court about not disciplining workers for falling short of the company's quotas for the number of tasks they complete each hour, Bloomberg reported.
Amazon says worker safety is its top priority, but employees at several facilities in different states claim their well-being takes a back seat to quickly shipping customers' orders, Bloomberg reported. "We have reinstated a portion of our process where a fraction of employees, less than 5 percent on average, may receive coaching for improvement as a result of extreme outliers in performance," Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said in a statement.
All of the company's measures continue to provide additional time for workers to practice social distancing, wash their hands and clean their work stations whenever needed, Lighty added. German trade union Verdi had called on workers at seven Amazon warehouses to go on two-day strike over better pay and conditions on Tuesday to coincide with the global Prime Day promotion event.
During the annual shopping event that spans several countries, Amazon typically offers heavy discounts and free shipping for its Prime members to boost sales.