By Sophie Squire
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Amazon’s greed kills six workers

This article is over 1 years, 11 months old
Issue 2785
Rubble and destruction after the tornado hit

Destruction in Kentucky after the tornado hit (Pic: Flickr/ State Farm)

Amazon bosses have blood on their hands for sending workers into a warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, last Friday as a deadly tornado tore across the US.

At least six people have been confirmed dead after the roof of the distribution centre was torn off by the winds.

Over 100 people were inside the building at the time of the collapse. They had been assured that coming into work would be safe.

While workers died ­billionaire Amazon boss Jeff Bezos celebrated his latest venture in space tourism.

His latest 11-minute flight emitted more carbon than one billion people will ­produce in a lifetime.

One of the victims, Austin J. McEwen, died while sheltering in a bathroom on the instruction of his managers.

Amazon disputes that anyone was told to shelter in bathrooms, but many ­workers at the warehouse have said this is a lie.

One worker David Kosiak said, “I was at the end of my route. I was just getting in the building, and they started screaming, ‘Shelter in place’

“We were in the ­bathrooms. That’s where they sent us. It sounded like a train came through the ­building. The ceiling tiles came flying down.

“It was very loud. They made us shelter in place until we left—it was at least two and a half hours in there.”

Amazon’s working practices are also to blame for authorities being slow to account for how many people were inside the building. 

The use of precarious and part-time workers at the warehouse meant the company didn’t know how many people it employed or had working at the time.

Amazon has said it will donate a mere £754,000 to the Edwardsville Community Foundation to try to save face. In comparison, in the last quarter of the financial year Amazon made £73 billion in profit.

In the neighbouring state of Kentucky eight people have been confirmed dead and eight were missing as of Monday after the tornado destroyed a candlestick factory.

Workers at Mayfield Consumer Products had been reportedly working “24/7” to get ready for the Christmas period. Factory worker Autumn Kirk told USA Today, “Everything was going good, and then the sirens went off, and we barely had time to get people to the hallways before it hit.

“I was on the floor in the hallway, and I looked up and saw the sky, and that’s not normal at all. The whole building was just gone, in shambles.

“There were people screaming, people trying to climb out and people who were crushed. One of my girls was crushed really bad.”

Lousy pay and unsafe conditions were the grim reality for those who worked at the factory.

The average pay for a production worker at the company has been listed as a tiny £6.79 an hour. But there are reports that the factory paid some workers £6.04 an hour.

At the time of the collapse the factory was also ­employing prison labour, with seven jail inmates inside.

Safety concerns over the factory had been flagged up in 2019 after the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the factory.

It found 12 safety violations at the factory—seven labelled “serious”.

Across the US it is feared that more than 100 people have died, with many more missing in the destruction left by tornadoes.

The “Quad-State Tornado”, is considered the longest continuous tornado in US history.

Tornadoes have occurred in the southern states during December in the past.

But none have been as ferocious or as deadly as the ones that hit last week.

A warmer world caused by increased fossil fuel emissions will mean more frequent extreme weather events, including tornadoes.

The destruction these tornadoes cause is a reminder of the deadly consequences of bosses exploiting our planet.

And it shows clearly that they would rather workers die than risk losing profits.

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