“I have become a zombie”: Amazon employees denounce illegal practices

“Regular” work accidents, unjustified disciplinary measures and “hellish” work pace: several employees and ex-employees of Amazon warehouses in Greater Montreal denounced their working conditions on Friday morning.

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During a joint press briefing with the CSN, several people admitted to having suffered reprisals after having appealed to the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST).

According to these employees, the multinational would have offered, among other things, money in exchange for the withdrawal of complaints filed with the CNESST following a work accident.

“We were well aware that Amazon was doing everything to evade the obligation to declare each work accident to the CNESST or to dispute each claim,” said Mostafa Henaway, community organizer at the Center des travaux immigrants ).

“But to hear today that action is being taken against injured workers who are exercising their legal right to compensation and healthy recovery, to hear that some of them are being promised money by Amazon if their complaints to the CNESST are withdrawn, to learn that Amazon is going so far as to dismiss employees who have dared to make a claim following a work accident, that is beyond comprehension.

An ex-employee, met by TVA Nouvelles, claimed to have been fired for no valid reason after an injury.

“I always did my best and after two years, I was fired without explanation,” he lamented.

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The vice-president of the CSN, David Bergeron-Cyr, maintains that the employees of Amazon warehouses in Greater Montreal work in conditions that violate their dignity.

“The workers and workers of Amazon, they are wage slaves,” he claimed.

“These people, all they want is to be respected and to have a decent salary.”

A second Amazon worker met by TVA Nouvelles denounced the number of hours demanded by the company which, according to him, is mind-numbing.

“After 50 hours a week at work, I can no longer do anything. I have become a zombie,” he lamented.

In the midst of the unionization procedure, employer interference was also denounced.

Anti-union posters, messages encouraging people to reject unionization, meetings with executives from all over North America, the company would have taken all means to prevent the establishment of a union.

“We saw Amazon act in the United States, we knew that the campaign would be difficult. We are facing one of the worst employers on the planet,” said David Bergeron-Cyr, describing the employer’s actions as a “real campaign of fear”.

Amazon Canada, for its part, says it prefers a relationship without a “third party”.

In an email to TVA Nouvelles, its spokeswoman Ryma Boussoufa wrote that “as a company, we do not believe that unions are the best answer for our employees.”

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