Amazon to Pay $500 Million in One-Time Bonuses to Front-Line Workers

June 29, 2020 Updated: June 29, 2020

Amazon Inc said on Monday it would spend $500 million on one-time bonuses to its front-line employees and partners working through the COVID-19 crisis.

Employees and partners who have been with the e-commerce company through June will receive bonuses ranging from $150 to $3,000, the company said in a blog post.

The world’s largest online retailer, which delivers about 10 billion items a year, has been facing intense scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and unions over whether it is doing enough to protect staff from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier in the day, workers at six Amazon sites in Germany decided to go on strike in protest over safety after some staff at logistics centers tested positive for the virus.

Labour union Verdi said on Sunday that the strike would last at least 48 hours, under the motto “Good and healthy work,” to denounce what it called a lack of transparency by Amazon after workers tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have information that at least 30 to 40 colleagues were infected,” said Verdi representative Orhan Akman.

Amazon has faced a long-running battle with unions in Germany over better pay and conditions for logistics workers, who have staged frequent strikes since 2013.

Verdi said the strikes will hit Amazon sites in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Rheinberg, Werne and Koblenz. It said Amazon was putting profit ahead of the safety of its workers.

Amazon rejected the accusations in a statement and said that as of June it had invested $4 billion on measures to protect its global workforce and clients from the risk of COVID-19 infections.

In Germany, its biggest market after the United States, Amazon has since February ordered 470 million hand disinfection bottles, 21 million pairs of gloves, 19 million masks and other face protection gear and 39 million boxes of disinfectant wipes, a spokesman for Amazon in Germany said.