Amazon to probe German 'neo-Nazi' allegations

Monday 18 February 2013 11.40
An Amazon depot centre pictured in Swansea
An Amazon depot centre pictured in Swansea

Online retailer Amazon has said it will investigate reports temporary staff at its logistics centres in Germany were subjected to a climate of intimidation by security staff wearing neo-Nazi linked clothes.

A documentary aired on German television told of grim conditions for staff hired by temp agencies on Amazon's behalf.

ARD public television cited temporary staff saying they were paid less than promised, faced constant searches and were intimidated by security staff wearing clothes linked to Germany's neo-Nazi scene.

The documentary showed guards in black uniforms with 'HESS' emblazoned on their chests, standing for Hensel European Security Services, but also reminiscent of Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.

In Frankfurt, locals said they would end their use of Amazon's German website, Amazon.de, in response to the documentary.

"I ordered books at Amazon two or three times, but this will not happen anymore. Simple," said one man.

Another had deleted his account altogether.

"In reaction to that, yesterday an email from Amazon arrived with a statement which tried to correct the claims and with the request not to cancel my account, but I finally deleted it this morning," he said.

Amazon has more than 7,700 permanent employees in Germany, but hires thousands more to fulfil surges in orders before Christmas.

The German union 'ver.di' says Amazon workers have for years complained of intense pressure, random searches and short breaks.

It said many of the temporary staff come from other European countries, where unemployment is high and the Amazon jobs are highly prized.