E-commerce giant Amazon has apologised to a US politician after denying that its drivers are sometimes forced to urinate in bottles during their delivery rounds.
In an apology to US Representative Mark Pocan, a Democrat, the company admitted to scoring “an own-goal” in its initial denial.
In a blog post, Amazon said that it knew that drivers “can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes”, adding this is especially the case during the coronavirus pandemic, “when many public restrooms have been closed”.
The apology comes a week after Pocan criticised Amazon’s working conditions, saying in a tweet: “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles.”
“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” Amazon initially responded, before walking back those comments.
1/2 You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us. The truth is that we have over a million incredible employees around the world who are proud of what they do, and have great wages and health care from day one.
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) March 25, 2021
“This was an own-goal, we’re unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan,” Amazon later said in its blog post, adding that the tweet was incorrect as it did not contemplate the company’s large driver population, instead wrongly focussing only on its fulfillment centres.
“This is a long-standing, industry-wide issue and is not specific to Amazon,” it said, adding: “Regardless of the fact that this is industry-wide, we would like to solve it. We don’t yet know how, but will look for solutions.”
Reuters noted that the apology came at a time when workers at an Alabama warehouse are waiting for a vote count that could result in Amazon’s “first unionised facility in the United States and mark a watershed moment for organised labour”.
According to the wire service, Amazon has long discouraged attempts among its more than 800,000 US employees to organise. Allegations by many workers of “a gruelling” or “unsafe” workplace have turned unionising the company into a key goal for the US labour movement, Reuters reported.
Featured image source: iStock/jetcityimage
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