Amazon’s working standards haven’t been getting a good press in the last couple of weeks, with one notable FT Weekend cover story detailing the conditions at one UK -based factory in a less-than-favourable light.Now Germany has been hit by its own Amazon scandal, with TV Channel ARD airing a documentary that paints an incredibly grim view of Amazon packing and distribution centres in the country.
The documentary features interviews with temporary workers hired through agencies by the online sale giant, and live on site.
The workers, often from outside the country, described being harassed by guards who intimidated them by searching their bedrooms and kitchens.
Controversially, these security guards appear to have links to Germany’s far right scene. ARD reports that the security firm used by Amazon went by the name “HESS Security” — which may be an allusion to Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess — and was headed by a mysterious man known to associate with soccer hooligans and neo-Nazi.
In the documentary, guards are shown wearing black uniforms and sporting military haircuts. Some are filmed shown clothing made by the Berlin brand Thor Steinar — a brand synonymous with the far right in Germany — and at one point security members are filmed scuffling with the film makers at one point.
The press in Germany is having a field day, with the respectable daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung describing it as a “shitstorm.”
In an email to the AP, Amazon promised to investigate the allegations. “Amazon tolerates no discrimination or intimidation,” Amazon spokeswoman Ulrike writes. “Even though the security company wasn’t hired by Amazon we are of course examining the allegations (…) and will take appropriate measures immediately.”