Amazon Web Services (AWS) vice president Tim Bray has resigned following the company’s controversial sacking of two employees who had publicly criticised Amazon’s labour practices amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Bray published a blog post on Friday 1 May, in which he said: “I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistle-blowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19.
“Remaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised. So I resigned.
“And at the end of the day, the big problem isn’t the specifics of Covid-19 response. It’s that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential. Only that’s not just Amazon, it’s how 21st-century capitalism is done.
“Firing whistle-blowers isn’t just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets. It’s evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture.”
In the same post, Bray did however acknowledge that Amazon’s messaging had been urgent that it was prioritising the safety and wellbeing of its employees and putting massive efforts into warehouse safety.
Bray said: “I actually believe this: I have heard detailed descriptions from people I trust of the intense work and huge investments. Good for them; and let’s grant that you don’t turn a supertanker on a dime.”
Bray’s departure from Amazon follows the company’s announcement last week that it was likely to spend $4bn to support the implement of coronavirus safety measures and increase staff pay for continuing to come into work – a move that would likely wipe out its second quarter profits.