DISGRUNTLED Amazon workers have threatened a mass "online walkout" to protest staff firings and working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.
The action comes as investors in the retail giant look forward to big earnings from the killer bug-induced slowdowns keeping people at home.
Dozens of Amazon warehouse workers have tested positive for the virus, and one boss has died after contracting it.
Gerard, an operations manager at the firm's Hawthorne facility in Los Angeles, is the first known employee of Amazon to die from the deadly bug.
Amazon has been "firing workers protesting the lack of adequate safety precautions in the warehouses", says campaign group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ).
It has asked hundreds of fellow workers to sign up for a planned joint "sick out" on April 24, where workers would all take a personal day off at the same time.
The call for action comes after about 400 Amazon tech workers tuned in to a virtual panel on April 16 to hear directly from Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham.
The pair, both leaders of AECJ, were fired last week for pushing the company on the climate crisis and concerns over working conditions.
During the livestream event, warehouse workers also aired grievances about labor policies during the coronavirus pandemic.
One employee criticized Amazon for letting him "risk my life" to "pack and ship hair straighteners, Easter decorations and ping pong balls".
The worker added: “Even if it were true that hair straighteners and ping pong balls are essential, then why aren’t we warehouse workers considered essential people?
"Why does Amazon treat us like we are scraps off [Amazon boss] Jeff Bezos’ table?”
Another worker told the forum: "No company has profited more from this pandemic than Amazon.
"And yet again and again, Jeff Bezos has treated the people responsible for his unprecedented and unfathomable wealth as if they are disposable products.”
At the end of the livecast, Costa and Cunningham called on their coworkers to join AECJ for a mass sick-out to protest their firings and Amazon’s treatment of warehouse workers during the pandemic.
They organized the event after weeks of public scrutiny over Amazon’s lack of measures to protect workers from spreading the coronavirus.
Costa told the warehouse workers: “We want to tell Amazon that we are sick of all this.
"[We are] sick of the firings, sick of the silencing, sick of pollution, sick of [alleged] racism, and sick of the climate crisis.
"So we’re asking tech workers to join us for a sick out on Friday, April 24 and show Amazon that you do not agree with their actions."
The Sun Online has approached Amazon for comment on the planned protest.
In early April, Bezos made a rare public appearance at an Amazon warehouse amid complaints from employees about working conditions.
The Amazon CEO toured an unspecified warehouse and a Whole Foods supermarket while wearing a mask in a video posted to the company's PR account.
In the 47-second clip, the billionaire was shown greeting workers and thanking them for toiling around the clock to provide service for Amazon customers during the crisis.
"I like your mask," he said to one employee working in an aisle.
"I can't shake your hand – it's a hard habit to break," he told another stocking packages of bottled water.
Twitter users criticized the PR footage and pointed out the unsafe working conditions endured by Amazon warehouse workers across the country.
The threatened protest comes as Amazon.com as investors anticipated big earnings from the coronavirus-induced slowdowns keeping people at home, reported Reuters on April 16.
Amazon and Netflix rose as sweeping stay-at-home orders drove demand for online streaming services and home delivery of goods.
With an "all-clear" nowhere in sight, seven U.S. Northeastern states extended a shutdown to contain the pandemic until May 15, even as President Donald Trump prepared to detail his plan to open businesses in the least-affected states as early as May 1.
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