Internet marketer Amazon said Monday it has
dismissed a security subcontractor which was accused last week in a
television documentary of intimidating temporary foreign workers at
the retailer's German distribution centres.
A storm has broken about the US-based multinational in Germany after allegations of oppressive working conditions at its vast automated warehouses, where staff fetch books, clothing and other products from the shelves and pack them for dispatch.
The ARD public television documentary on February 13 said temporary workers from Hungary, Poland, Spain and other nations were terrified of the guards, who wore neo-Nazi-style clothing and jackboots.
It said the overbearing guards, working for a firm from the northern city of Kassel, even entered the workers' private rooms at temporary accommodation arranged by Amazon. The US company said it had no direct contractual relationship with the security company.
"Amazon has ensured that use of the security firm that was criticized has been ended with immediate effect," an Amazon spokeswoman in Munich told dpa.
Since the documentary, Amazon's problems in Germany have mounted, with social networks debating a boycott of Amazon and the country's labour minister, Ursula von der Leyen, threatening to revoke the permits of a company that supplies temporary labour to Amazon.
Amazon says it directly employs 8,000 people in Germany and hires additional temporary labour to cope with an annual rush of Christmas orders. A trade union, Verdi, demanded Amazon grant a collective labour agreement with higher rates of pay to the staff.
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