Amazon ends contract of 'neo-Nazi security firm' over alleged mistreatment of immigrant workers

Amazon said the company had ended its relationship with Hensel European Security Services with immediate effect

The online retailer Amazon has ended the contract of a security firm at one of its German warehouses after complaints about alleged mistreatment of foreign temporary workers.

In a German documentary broadcast last week the firm, Hensel European Security Services (Hess), was accused of harrassing seasonal workers, as well as wearing clothes linked to Germany's neo-Nazi scene.

Amid growing criticism an Amazon spokeswoman in Germany today said the company had ended its relationship with Hensel European Security Services "with immediate effect."

"Amazon has a zero tolerance limit for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same of other companies we work with," spokeswoman Ulrike Stoecker said.

The documentary, made by state broadcaster ARD, showed staff of the security company - whose initials spell out the surname of Adolf Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess - wearing black uniforms, boots and with military haircuts.

A number of the guards were shown wearing Thor Steinar clothing - a Berlin-based designer brand associated with the far-right in Germany.

The programme makers interviewed people claiming they were intimidated by the security guards, who were stationed at a holiday camp where the temporary staff were housed.

The company, hired by one of Amazon's subcontractors, last week denied it supported far-right opinions: "We employ Christians, Muslims and Buddhists," the company said in a statement Friday. "The allegations of far-right sympathies can't be reconciled with that."

The ARD documentary alleged a broader climate of intimidation at Amazon's seven logistics centers in Germany, including threats of random staff searches, constant pressure to perform better and firing of workers who complained.

It also appeared to show employees' rooms being searched, and staff being frisked at breakfast and constantly watched.

The ARD report echoes allegations by German union ver.di, which says Amazon's temporary workers face particular difficulties because many have been brought in from other European countries and don't understand that they are protected by Germany's stringent labor laws.

The German government said the Federal Labor Agency is investigating an Amazon subcontractor, which it didn't name, in the wake of the documentary.

"We expect the results of the special investigation during the course of the week," Labor Ministry spokeswoman Christina Wendt told reporters today.

"There is the option, if mistreatment actually took place, of removing (the subcontractor's) license," she added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test