Another 24 billion for Jeff

The pandemic has been good to Jeff Bezos.

The Amazon CEO and entrepreneur, Jeff Bezos, has grown his vast fortune by a further $24bn so far during the coronavirus pandemic, a roughly 20% increase over the last four months to $138b.

Amazon is getting a lot of business of course because real world shopping is either closed down or restricted.

But the increased demand comes amid growing controversy over the retailer’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Workers have reported severe strains on warehouse teams. Many are on the frontlines packing and shipping items at warehouses where Covid-19 can easily spread.

Meanwhile Amazon is running tv ads showing the workers grinning broadly as they skip and dance around the warehouse doing their fun easy healthful jobs. I know this because I’ve seen one.

Amazon reported its first warehouse worker death on Tuesday. The man, an operations manager who worked at the company’s Hawthorne, California, warehouse, died on 31 March.

So for two weeks Amazon did not report that death.

Several workers have organized strikes and walkouts in protest at lack of worker protections. Chris Smalls, a former manager assistant, was fired by the retailer after leading workers at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, New York, on a walkout.

Employees demanded Amazon temporarily shut down the facility for cleaning after multiple employees tested positive for Covid-19. Memos leaked by Vice News revealed company executives suggested coordinating an attempt to smear Smalls as “not smart or articulate” in response to the backlash over his firing.

Capitalism at its finest.

Several Amazon workers have since alleged retaliation for organizing. In an op-Ed for the Guardian, Smalls urged Bezos to spend more time on protecting his workers instead of stifling dissent.

And running perky tv ads saying we’re all in this together and look how joyous the workers are.

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