Amazon will drop its $2 pay raise for warehouse staff after May, and workers say it's too soon

Amazon workers protesting the company's policies during the coronavirus pandemic on May 1 in Hawthorne, California.Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images
  • Amazon will stop paying warehouse workers an extra $2 per hour at the end of this month.
  • The pay raise was brought in during March to compensate workers for coming into work during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Amazon reported 26% revenue growth in its first quarter, as the pandemic drove more consumers to shop online.
  • One Amazon worker told Business Insider they thought the decision to end the heightened pay is "disgraceful."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
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Amazon will at the end of May scrap the $2 hourly raise it introduced for warehouse workers coming in during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're going to do one more extension on it and push it out until the end of the month," Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations told Recode.

The $2 raise has been in effect since mid-March alongside increased overtime pay, and was originally slated to run through to the end of April but the company extended it.
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"I feel like it's too soon," one Amazon warehouse worker told Business Insider, adding they found out about the final extension via news reports rather than company communication.

"I had to find this out through news outlets. I do understand the economy is reopening, but the demand has not decreased and if anyone expects things to go back to normal anytime soon, it would be unrealistic. I believe that it should be extended into the month of June, so that they can have a better grasp of our new normal as we watch the economy recover," they said.

Another warehouse employee called the decision "disgraceful."
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"Staff put themselves at risk every day. Also with the harsh regime and difficult targets the workers more than deserve the pay rise permanently. It just shows how very little regard Amazon has for its overworked employees," they said.

Amazon also cut a policy allowing workers to take unlimited amounts of unpaid time off at the end of April, a policy originally introduced to allow workers to stay home if they felt unsafe without fearing repercussion. "Now they're forcing people to go to work because if you run out of unpaid time off, that's it, you're fired," one Amazon employee told The Guardian. An Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg its pay incentives for employees since the beginning of the pandemic have racked up to nearly $800 million. The company also said at the end of last month that in total it expects to spend $4 billion on increased wages, personal protective equipment, and increased cleaning of its facilities.
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Inside Amazon's Thornton, Colorado warehouse (picture taken in March 2019).Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Amazon has seen a massive spike in demand since the beginning of the year with customers stuck in their homes. The firm reported a 26% revenue spike in its first-quarter financials to $75.5 billion. It has had to balance this surge against the safety of its warehouse staff — with limited success.

Amazon employees have told Business Insider that although Amazon has brough in policies like social distancing, in practice these are impossible to enact inside the warehouses.
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In France the company shuttered its warehouses after a court last month ruled its protections were inadequate, and limited the company to only shipping essential items until it could bring its employee safety up to scratch.

In the US workers have gone on protests, partly fuelled by the firing of vocally critical employees. In one case worker Christian Smalls was fired after leading a walkout at his Staten Island warehouse. Amazon asserts Smalls was terminated for violating social-distancing policy, but Smalls believes it was because of his activism.

A leaked memo from a meeting at which CEO Jeff Bezos was present showed Amazon's top-level executives discussed how best to handle the press fallout from Smalls' firing, with the company's top lawyer saying he was "not smart or articulate" and Amazon should "make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement."
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Christy Hoffman, general secretary for the internal workers' union UNI Global Union told Business Insider: "Amazon's announcement to end hazard pay shows yet again that the tech giant won't act in the best interest of workers unless pushed.

"It is the same attitude that has already motivated workers to strike, take the company to court and demand respect on the job. As the deadly coronavirus outbreak continues, Amazon should put workers first and pay a premium for their labor."

Are you an Amazon employee? Got a tip? Contact this reporter at ihamilton@businessinsider.com or iahamilton@protonmail.com.
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