The founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos has said that he plans to give the majority of his wealth of $124 billion to charity, telling CNN “that he will devote the bulk of his wealth to fighting climate change and supporting people who can unify humanity in the face of deep social and political divisions.” He did not say when and how much and to whom he will give money away, so frankly I am going to wait and see if he actually follows through.
But here’s an idea. Why doesn’t he start by paying his workers decent wages and benefits and provide them with decent working conditions so that they are not forced to urinate in bottles because of the pace of work?
Amazon has apologised to a US politician for falsely denying that drivers are, at times, forced to urinate in plastic bottles.
Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, referenced Amazon making “workers urinate in water bottles” in a tweet.
The official Amazon Twitter account then replied: “If that were true, nobody would work for us.”
The company has now apologised after evidence emerged of drivers having to urinate in bottles.
Mr Pocan rejected the apology on Saturday, tweeting: “Sigh. This is not about me, this is about your workers – who you don’t treat with enough respect or dignity. Start by acknowledging the inadequate working conditions you’ve created for ALL your workers, then fix that for everyone and finally, let them unionise without interference.”
Also, why not pay his house staff a decent wage and give them decent conditions so that they are not forced to sue him?
Jeff Bezos is being sued by a former housekeeper who claims she was subjected to racial discrimination and forced to regularly climb out of a laundry room window to go to the toilet as she wasn’t allowed to enter the Amazon billionaire’s house except on “cleaning assignment”.
Mercedes Wedaa, who worked cleaning Bezos’s Seattle mansion for three years, claimed in a lawsuit filed in Seattle state court that she and other hispanic cleaning staff were treated differently to white staff.
Wedaa, who first started working at Bezos’s home in 2019, said she was regularly required to work for 10 to 14 hours without lunch or rest breaks if Bezos and his family were “in residence”.
The lawsuit claims that there was no dedicated break room or rest area and that Wedaa and other household staff would regularly eat in the laundry room.
Wedaa also claims that she was not allowed to enter Bezos’s house “unless to perform a cleaning assignment”, which made going to the toilet difficult and resulted in health issues.
“For about 18 months, in order to use a bathroom, [the] plaintiff and other housekeepers were forced to climb out of the laundry room window to the outside. Then run along the path to the mechanical room, through the mechanical room and downstairs to a bathroom,” the lawsuit, first reported by the Seattle-based blog Geekwire, states.
The lawsuit claims that because Wedaa and other housekeepers “had to spend large parts of their day unable to use the toilet”, they frequently developed urinary tract infections.
Amazon has also announced that it will lay off 10,000 workers. This is being done because its share prices have declined and cutting staff is a tried-and-true method of increasing profits and thus the share price. And who will benefit from the rise is share price? Why, Bezos of course.
Why not address these immediate and tangible ways of improving the lot of people who actually work for you without making vague and grandiose promises about what you might do in the future??
Bezos has probably not heard of the old saying that charity begins at home.