Amazon is seeing a surge in online shopping as officials quarantine Americans in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. To keep up with the demand for bulk items and household supplies, the e-commerce giant is launching a hiring spree amid warnings that its services will falter during the crisis.
In an interview with Motherboard, Economic Roundtable president Daniel Flaming, who wrote a 2019 report on the impact of Amazon’s logistics operations on Southern California, says Amazon Prime, the company’s flagship delivery service, is heading toward serious delays, mistakes and shortages as the sudden spike in consumer demands subjects warehouse workers to increased production quotas.
He also points at the possibility that workers who pack and deliver ordered goods may contract Covid-19, as research suggests that the virus can thrive on cardboard boxes for up to 24 hours.
An infection can further paralyze operations as some workers will no longer show up at work over worries of contracting the disease.
“It seems really likely that Amazon’s prime delivery system will falter.”
“In the distribution centers, where people pick up their loads, there’s a lot of interaction between people within close range of each other.
People are in close contact with packages that have been handled by many other people. They’re at risk of being caught up in a chain of infection.”
In a bid to prevent further problems that may arise from increased consumer demands, Amazon is opening up 100,000 full-time and part-time positions for its fulfillment centers and delivery network.
“We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year.”
The company is also investing $350 million to increase the hourly pay of its employees through April. Amazon says workers in some US regions will receive an additional $2 per hour to their base pay, while workers in the United Kingdom and other European countries will get an additional £2 per hour.
Amazon also assures the public it is taking measures to protect its employees.
“Health and safety are a top priority with all of our roles and sites. We continue to consult with medical and health experts, and take all recommended precautions in our buildings and stores to keep people healthy. We’ve taken measures to promote social distancing in the workplace and taken on enhanced and frequent cleaning, to name just a few.”
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