05:22 GMT09 July 2020
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    American online retailing giant Amazon has been working hard to enforce strict guidelines to protect its workers from COVID-19. However, several reports emerged in March that the company’s warehouse workers were left especially vulnerable to the virus, with many activists expressing their concerns.

    Vice President and top engineer at Amazon Web Services Tim Bray has resigned from his position following a scandal surrounding the dismissal of several activist workers, who were protesting the health security conditions at the online retailer’s warehouses during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the former executive’s blog post.

    The ex-AWS official noted that the decision has left him particularly sad, but he could not put up with the “toxicity running through the company culture” which caused the firing of activists, for what Bray called “laughable” justifications.

    “… it was clear to any reasonable observer that they were turfed out for whistleblowing”, the former official claimed in his post.
    In this Dec. 17, 2019, file photo, Amazon packages move along a conveyor at an Amazon warehouse facility in Goodyear, Ariz. Amazon will report quarterly earnings on Thursday, APril 30, 2020, providing a first glimpse into its financial performance during the pandemic
    © AP Photo / Ross D. Franklin
    In this Dec. 17, 2019, file photo, Amazon packages move along a conveyor at an Amazon warehouse facility in Goodyear, Ariz. Amazon will report quarterly earnings on Thursday, APril 30, 2020, providing a first glimpse into its financial performance during the pandemic

    He argued that he firstly tried to address the problem internally, without going “publicly rogue”, but still came to the decision to leave the company in the end.

    “Remaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised. So I resigned”, Bray explained.

    One of the most notable firings included the dismissal of Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, the leaders of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group, who openly criticised the Amazon warehouses’ conditions on social media.

    “Stories surfaced of unrest in Amazon warehouses, workers raising alarms about being uninformed, unprotected, and frightened. Official statements claimed every possible safety precaution was being taken”, the former AWS senior engineer argued.
    Gerald Bryson, left, join workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island, N.Y., protesting conditions in the company's warehouse, Monday March 30, 2020, in New York
    © AP Photo / Bebeto Matthews
    Gerald Bryson, left, join workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island, N.Y., protesting conditions in the company's warehouse, Monday March 30, 2020, in New York
    “At the end of the day, the big problem isn’t the specifics of Covid-19 response”, Bray suggested. “It’s that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential. Only that’s not just Amazon, it’s how 21st-century capitalism is done”.

    The company has not yet commented on Bray’s resignation.

    Amazon has been trying to address its workers’ concerns with several measures, including enforcing social distancing rules and raising hourly wages, but many staffers are still concerned that not enough has been done to protect them from the ongoing pandemic, including the absence of health insurance and the lack of testing.

    Tags:
    Amazon Web Services, Amazon, coronavirus, COVID-19, United States
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