Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government demanded an explanation from the online retailer Amazon Germany after a television documentary showed seasonal workers being harassed by black-clad security guards with alleged neo-Nazi links.
The Employment Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, threatened that if the programme’s accusations proved true she would cancel the licences of companies contracted by Amazon to find temporary workers and provide site security.
The documentary, screened by the German channel ARD, showed how Spanish seasonal workers employed by Amazon were subjected to constant surveillance by shaven-headed, black-clad security guards from a company called HESS.
Employees were said to have had their kitchens and bedrooms searched and were frisked after breakfast to check whether they had stolen bread. One woman said she had been thrown out of her accommodation for drying clothes on a wall heater.
HESS denied that its staff were in any way linked to neo-Nazi groups, but admitted to conducting room searches. Amazon promised to carry out an investigation, but stressed that it concerned sub-contractors and not Amazon itself.