Sunday, April 19, 2015

UPDATE: Amazon terminates 'neo-Nazi' security firm

Hess agency is out 'with immediate effect'

UPDATE: Amazon terminates 'neo-Nazi' security firm

Amazon.com has won local approvals to build a "fulfillment center" thatwill employ 850 full-time workers on 78 acres in Middletown, Del. (Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)
Amazon.com has won local approvals to build a "fulfillment center" thatwill employ 850 full-time workers on 78 acres in Middletown, Del. (Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)

"Online retailer Amazon has ended the contract of a security firm employed at one of its German warehouses, following complaints about workers' conditions," reports BBC here. See also GigaOM's short item here.

Britain's Guardian, among other outlets, reported last week on a German public-TV film that showed guards at Amazon facilities wearing neo-Nazi gear and adding that workers imported from Poland and Spain were paid less than promised. More in my note here. See the film (in German) by ARD Mediatek here.

Adds BBC: "The company, Hensel European Security Services (HESS), was accused of harassing seasonal workers in a TV documentary aired last week. It prompted calls for an investigation from the German government.

"Amazon said it had now terminated its relationship with the firm 'with immediate effect'." In a statement, the company added that "Amazon has zero-tolerance for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same from every company we work with."

"The documentary by state broadcaster ARD showed the conditions of employees at the warehouse in Bad Hersfeld, in the state of Hesse, brought in to help with the Christmas rush. It claimed employees' rooms were searched, they were frisked at breakfast and constantly watched...

"HESS was under contract to an employment agency, not to Amazon itself. HESS shares its name with Hitler's deputy in the Nazi party Rudolf Hess, and the documentary showed security guards wearing branded clothing linked with the neo-Nazi movement. Last week the firm denied suggestions that it supported far-right political views."

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

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