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
Monday 18 February 2013
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.
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 3 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 How much sex should I be having?
Ed Miliband returns to the backbenches but it's all a bit awkward as he tries to avoid eye-contact with fellow Labour MPs
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
Isis tortures 14-year-old Syrian boy and films it in graphic video for 'propaganda purposes'
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£12675 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler/Probate ...
£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...