Amazon Fires German Security Firm Accused of Mistreating Workers

question markAmazon announced today that they've fired a German security firm that was accused last week of intimidating and mistreating Amazon's contract workers. The information comes from an Amazon spokeswoman in Germany, Ulrike Stoecker, and she also added that Amazon has a "zero tolerance limit for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same of other companies it works with."

This news comes in response to a news story on the German tv network ARD. This network released a highly-dramatized "documentary" last week that accused HESS, a security company hired by one of Amazon's subcontractors, of routinely intimidating guest workers that had been hired to work in Amazon's warehouses. The original story alleges that HESS had ties to neo-Nazis and wore, while working as guards on Amazon's behalf, Neo-Nazi fashion items including brands that were closely identified with the movement.

These allegations have gotten a lot of press coverage but there has been no alleged ties or the worker abuse. And while no one reasonably expected the claims concerning the living conditions and treatment would turn out to be true, I for one seriously doubted that the security firm actually had ties to Neo-Nazis.

I thought last week that that detail seemed too inflammatory for it not to have leaked out before now, but after a reader posted a link to a photo (thanks, reorg!) and then argued with me about what it meant I changed my mind. Check this out (source):

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The photo was taken at a job fair, and the 2 guys on the right are from HESS. Note the black shirts with the company name in red and white in the shoulder flashes.  In Germany that's not just a design choice; the  color combination of black-red-white are Nazi colors and reference the Nazi flag (or at the very least it can be viewed that way). When you combine that photo with the company's name, which is an acronym (Hensel European Security Services) and could be a reference to the infamous Nazi Rudolph Hess, I have to wonder that there could be some truth to the allegation.

But in all honesty this is just one photo and just the company name. The evidence is still insufficient to prove a connection. And HESS denied the connection last week, further muddying the waters.

In any case, that firm is no longer working with Amazon.

source: AP

About Nate Hoffelder (11579 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

1 Comment on Amazon Fires German Security Firm Accused of Mistreating Workers

  1. Amazon is in damage control mode. Headlines popping up all over the world with Amazon and neo-nazi in the same phrase apparently do have a significant negative impact on their brand.

    They also fired the subcontractor responsible for the acommodation and transportation of the workers (http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/schlechte-arbeitsbedingungen-bei-online-haendler-amazon-kuendigt-zusammenarbeit-mit-weiterem-dienstleister-1.1603790).
    However there are still issues that need to be investigated, such as the alleged social security/insurance fraud by the subcontractor who officially employs the workers.
    We’ll have to wait and see if Amazon’s actions are just PR stunts or if they’ll adress all the issues raised.

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