Amazon fires German security firm amid probe

February 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: Germany demands probe of Amazon work conditions


Related Stories

Germany demands probe of Amazon work conditions

February 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. to hire thousands to fill orders

November 12, 2010

(AP) -- 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 over Kindle patent

March 17, 2009

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

Amazon purchasing BuyVIP online sales club

October 7, 2010

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

Recommended for you

Dutch unveil giant vacuum to clean outside air

October 25, 2016

Dutch inventors Tuesday unveiled what they called the world's first giant outside air vacuum cleaner—a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.

3-D-printed organ-on-a-chip with integrated sensors

October 24, 2016

Harvard University researchers have made the first entirely 3D-printed organ-on-a-chip with integrated sensing. Built by a fully automated, digital manufacturing procedure, the 3D-printed heart-on-a-chip can be quickly fabricated ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.