January 18, 2022

the company had forced them to continue working despite a tornado

Photo credits: REUTERS

This Friday, December 10, tornadoes decimated six states in the United States, killing at least 93 people in their path. In Edwardsville, Illinois, 6 workers died in an Amazon warehouse after company management decided, despite the alert issued for Madison County, to continue the activity under the conditions usual.

The tornado devastated the warehouse at the time of the shift change. The team in place, which are not allowed to have their phones, were unaware of the alert, and the team taking over were forced to take up their post despite the imminent danger. An employee clearly testified to this on Facebook, saying he was warned that he would be penalized if he missed a job, even after the police told him to go home. These methods are commonplace for the company which has a habit of making its employees work in the most dangerous conditions so as not to lower their output, as sociologist Nantina Vgontzas reminds us on Twitter, with videos of Amazon drivers forced these last months to ensure deliveries under severe weather and tornado risk.

Translation of the tweet: Over the past six months, Amazon has repeatedly refused to close warehouses amid extreme weather events: the heatwave in June, Ida in September, and now this tornado. There are injuries and reports of fatalities in the warehouse. A fucking nightmare.

Shamelessly, the company said that “the safety and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority at this time” after not only forcing its employees to stay and take their positions, but also refused. to give the figures of the people present in the warehouse at the time of the disaster as reported LeftVoice, despite its many devices that record every gesture of its employees, thus hampering the work of rescuers.

While the human damage caused by this tornado is a disaster, it is far from the only one for which Amazon is responsible. The company is indeed famous for the appalling working conditions that it imposes on its employees to keep up with hellish rates, whether for the workers in the warehouses or for the drivers, timed on the smallest task, to the point of no no breaks even to go to the bathroom and be forced to relieve themselves in their trucks or in bottles. All under constant surveillance, timing down to the second for all the tasks performed, coupled with severe union repression to avoid any possibility of organization and fight against the ignominy of this overexploitation.

So much institutionalized violence for the profits of one of the richest men in the world, who had the indecency to say he was “heartbroken” on Twitter, after spending the evening celebrating the success of his latest space venture , space travel number 3. We see once again with this catastrophe that it is always the working classes who are the first victims of the climate crisis. While the employees of Jeff Bezos died at work under the rubble, their boss celebrated his conquest of space, far from the planet whose resources he contributes to depleting every day.

If the example of Amazon is particularly salient in terms of overexploitation until the assumed endangerment of its employees, it is in reality the law of large companies. In fact, a candle-making factory in Mayefield, Kentucky, has also collapsed, leaving people dead and injured. Because the dignity and the life of the workers are at stake in the face of this cynical violence of the bourgeoisie which exploits us, the working conditions and in particular the safety conditions must be in the hands of the workers, who are the most able and the most capable. more concerned to decide whether or not the conditions are met to allow their presence on a site and their activity.