Tim Bray, a senior software engineer at Amazon, has stepped down from office citing the company's decision to fire protesting employees who called out its labour practices. In an open letter titled 'Bye, Amazon' on his website, he declared that May 1 was his last day as the Vice President and distinguished engineer at Amazon Web Services after five years and five months.
Calling his stint at Amazon rewarding fun, Bray said that he is quitting "in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of COVID-19". Bray, known as the father of XML, said the breaking point came after Amazon fired on spot Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, who were vocal critics of Amazon's climate stance as prominent members of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, and recently spoke out against its labour practices amid coronavirus pandemic.
"VPs shouldn't go publicly rogue, so I escalated through the proper channels and by the book. I'm not at liberty to disclose those discussions, but I made many of the arguments appearing in this essay. I think I made them to the appropriate people," Bray wrote in his letter. "That done, remaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised. So I resigned."
Calling Amazon "chickenshit" for firing activist employees, Bray said these actions indicated that the company is 'either guilty or has something to hide'. He said that the firings were "Like painting a sign on your forehead saying 'Either guilty, or has something to hide'".
Amazon's tech and warehouse workers have been speaking out against the company's alleged apathy towards worker safety when a pandemic is rampaging around the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the virus has claimed almost 2.40 lakh lives around the world.
"Firing whistleblowers isn't just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets. It's evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture. I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison," Bray stated.
Amazon has assured that it is focussing on keeping its workers safe. In a letter to shareholders last month, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said that the company has consulted medical experts and health authorities to implement 150 process changes in our operations network and Whole Foods Market stores to protect workers and contractors. He added that the company has distributed face masks and implemented temperature checks at sites around the world to protect employees and support staff, and work areas are being thoroughly sanitised. He further added Amazon will hire 75,000 employees to respond to customer demand.