Amazon re-hires woman fired after visiting dying relative

Amazon re-hires woman fired after visiting dying relative
By: Technology Posted On: October 07, 2019 View: 15

Amazon re-hires woman fired after visiting dying relative

An Amazon warehouse worker in Sacramento who was fired after visiting a dying relative in hospital has been re-hired with back pay for time missed following a protest by her colleagues.

The company reportedly took the move following action by Amazonians United, Sacramento (AUS) - a workers' organisation which campaigned against what it saw as the unjust firing of the woman, called Sandra.

AUS warehouse staff submitted a petition to management requesting that the woman and another colleague be reinstated.

SACRAMENTO, CA - AUGUST 10: A worker makes repairs to a conveyor belt system that is under construction at a new Amazon fulfillment center on August 10, 2017 in Sacramento, California. Amazon is preparing to open a new 855,000-square-foot warehouse, the tenth in California, by early October and is expected to hire nearly 1,500 people. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Image: Staff briefly walked out in support of their colleague in Sacramento

According to the group's Facebook page, a second worker included in the AUS demands letter has now been reinstated too - but Amazon has not acknowledged the AUS requests for paid time off, the cause for the initial dismissal.

Part-time Amazon staff are only permitted 10 days' unpaid leave a year - regardless of the reason for that leave - and if staff breach this limit, which the woman visiting her dying relative reportedly did by a single hour, they are fired.

In its statement, Amazonians United Sacramento said: "Before our petition, Sandra had spent countless hours talking to Human Resources (HR) by phone and email to try and save her job.

"Despite her best efforts, Amazon continued to ignore Sandra and delay their response to her case.

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"However, things changed on October 1st when AUS submitted a petition with 78 signatures from DSM1 co-workers demanding that Sandra be rehired and all workers be given paid time off (PTO).

"Within 24 hours of submitting the petition, HR verbally confirmed to Sandra that she was going to be rehired with back pay after weeks of being ignored and strung along without a paycheck.

"That is the power that all Amazon workers have when we work together.

"While Amazon has taken the right step in rehiring Sandra, they have not acknowledged our request for a meeting to discuss a second negative UPT firing case or our demand for PTO for all workers. AUS will continue to push for these demands as we move forward."

A spokesperson for Amazon was unable to immediately respond to Sky News for comment.

Amazon workers protesting on Thursday night. Pic: The Atwood Centre
Image: Amazon workers protesting last Thursday night. Pic: The Atwood Centre

Last Thursday night, more than 60 workers in the company's Minnesota office also walked out for two-and-a-half hours.

They called on Amazon to lift the 30-hour weekly working cap, which they say the company keeps so it does not have to offer staff medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

According to The Atwood Center, which is organising East African workers in Minnesota, the highest-ranking manager promised staff that he would talk to his managers first thing in the morning to resolve their issues.

Amazon worker Fadumo Yusuf said he and his colleagues "cannot keep working with no healthcare, lifting heavy boxes and being told to go home if we get injured".

He said: "We are told this is only part-time work, but they are still hiring more. We need more hours. We have no value here, they treat us like we are not human beings. Tonight we stand together to say no more!"

Sky News US correspondent Greg Milam has reported how the US is the only advanced economy in the world without guaranteed healthcare, leaving 700,000 bankrupt every year from health bills.

If you are an Amazon employee who would like to get in touch with Sky News, you can contact reporter Alexander Martin using the private messaging app Signal on +44 (0)7970 376 704.

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