Amazon.com Accused of Using Neo-Nazi Guards on Workers in Germany
Amazon.com has been accused of hiring security guards with neo-Nazi connections to intimidate its foreign workers in Germany.
According to Independent.co.uk, a documentary that aired on Germany’s ARD television channel recently showed guards from a company named 'HESS Security' wearing black uniforms, boots and with military haircuts.
The documentary suggested that the name 'HESS' was because of Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess.
In the documentary, several guards were shown wearing Thor Steinar clothing, which is synonymous with the far-right in Germany.
The German government banned its purchases of the label because of its neo-Nazi associations. Amazon.com stopped selling the clothing for the same reasons in 2009.
The guards were reportedly employed to keep order at hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed.
The documentary provided evidence that guards searched the bedrooms and kitchens of foreign staff. “They tell us they are the police here,” a Spanish woman said.
Another worker called 'Maria' claims she was thrown out of her cramped sleeping quarters because she dried her wet clothes on a wall heater. Maria allegedly was confronted by a muscular, tattooed security guard and told to leave.
Guards also allegedly frisked workers to make sure that they had not walked away with extra breakfast rolls.
The filmmakers, who booked reservations at one of the budget hotels where Amazon staff were housed, said they were arrested by HESS Security guards after being caught using cameras.
They were ordered to hand over their film and, when they refused, were held for nearly an hour before German police arrived and freed them. The film showed HESS guards scuffling with the camera crew and trying to cover their lenses.
Amazon.com's 5,000+ temporary staff reportedly work eight-hour shifts packing goods at the company’s logistics centers in Bad Hersfeld, Konstanz and Augsburg, Germany.
In a scene that resembled the 'Grapes of Wrath," most workers were told their pay had been cut to below the rate promised when they applied for jobs at Amazon.com.
“They don’t see any way of complaining,” said Heiner Reimann, a spokesman for the United Services Union. “They are all too frightened of being sent home without a job.”
Silvina, a Spanish mother of three, said: “It’s like being in a machine and we are just a small part in this machine."
The accusations led to Amazon.com's Facebook site being inundated with angry complaints.
In response, Amazon.com said in a statement: “Although the security firm was not contracted by Amazon, we are, of course, currently examining the allegations concerning the behavior of security guards and will take the appropriate measures immediately. We do not tolerate discrimination or intimidation.”