Amazon fires German security firm amid probe

Feb 18, 2013 by Frank Jordans

(AP)—Online retailer Amazon reacted to mounting criticism Monday by firing a security company named in a German television documentary about alleged mistreatment of foreign temporary workers.

An spokeswoman in Germany said the company had ended its relationship with Hensel European Security Services "with immediate effect."

"Amazon has a zero tolerance limit for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same of other companies we work with," spokeswoman Ulrike Stoecker said in an email to The Associated Press.

A documentary shown on German public television channel ARD last week showed staff of the security company—whose initials spell out the surname of Adolf Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess—wearing clothes linked to Germany's neo-Nazi scene. It also interviewed people claiming they were intimidated by the guards, who were stationed at a holiday camp where the temporary staff were housed.

The company, hired by one of Amazon's subcontractors, last week denied it supported far-right opinions. "We employ Christians, Muslims and Buddhists," the company said in a statement Friday. "The allegations of far-right sympathies can't be reconciled with that."

The ARD documentary alleged a broader climate of intimidation at Amazon's seven logistics centers in Germany, including threats of random staff searches, constant pressure to perform better and firing of workers who complained.

The ARD report echoes allegations by German union ver.di, which says Amazon's temporary workers face particular difficulties because many have been brought in from other European countries and don't understand that they are protected by Germany's stringent labor laws.

The said the Federal Labor Agency is investigating an Amazon subcontractor, which it didn't name, in the wake of the documentary.

"We expect the results of the special investigation during the course of the week," Labor Ministry spokeswoman Christina Wendt told reporters Monday.

"There is the option, if mistreatment actually took place, of removing (the subcontractor's) license," she added.

Explore further: Short sellers not to blame for 2008 financial crisis, study finds

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Germany demands probe of Amazon work conditions

Feb 17, 2013

A German government minister called Sunday for a thorough probe into allegations that foreign seasonal workers hired in Germany by US online retail giant Amazon were harassed and intimidated.

Amazon.com to hire thousands to fill orders

Nov 12, 2010

(AP) -- Amazon.com Inc. said Friday it is hiring more than 15,500 people to fill temporary holiday jobs at shipping centers around the country, more than it hired last year.

Discovery sues Amazon.com over Kindle patent

Mar 17, 2009

(AP) -- Discovery Communications Inc. says the Kindle electronic book readers from Amazon.com Inc. violate a patent that Discovery registered in 2007. Discovery sued Amazon in Delaware on Tuesday.

Amazon purchasing BuyVIP online sales club

Oct 07, 2010

Amazon announced on Thursday it is acquiring BuyVIP.com, a private online sales club with more than six million members in Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

Recommended for you

Chinese smartphone makers win as market swells

10 hours ago

Chinese smartphone makers racked up big gains as the global market for Internet-linked handsets grew to record levels in the second quarter, International Data Corp said Tuesday.

Full appeals court upholds labels on meat packages

10 hours ago

(AP)—A federal appeals court has upheld new government rules that require labels on packaged steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat to say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.

BlackBerry buys German anti-eavesdropping firm

11 hours ago

Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry announced Tuesday the purchase of German voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping firm Secusmart, whose customers include NATO and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ...

India's Flipkart raises $1 bn to tackle Amazon

13 hours ago

India's top e-commerce company Flipkart said Tuesday it had raised $1 billion (60 billion rupees) in funds as it battles US giant Amazon for supremacy in the hyper-competitive local market.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 18, 2013
whose initials spell out the surname of Adolf Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess

That's sort of stupid.
A 'Hess' is anyone from Hessen (the german federal district where the company is based at). To draw an inferrence to Rudolf Hess is like saying that Hitler was the Devil because numerologically his letters add up to 666.