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Summary:

Days after a documentary alleged the harassment and intimidation of foreign temporary workers at Amazon’s German distribution centers, the U.S. firm has cut ties with security company HESS.

Kindle box. Smaller than previous boxes, and just as easy to open. Amazon sure knows packaging.

Amazon has reportedly ended its relationship with a German security company that was accused of having far-right links and mistreating foreign workers at the U.S. firm’s distribution centers.

Hensel European Security Services’s (HESS) methods were the subject of a documentary last week by the German TV channel ARD, which used secret filming to establish how the firm harassed and intimidated foreign workers and also how some of its military-style employees appeared to have far-right allegiances.

The firm itself has strongly denied such links – it noted in a statement that it itself employs many immigrants — but the documentary quickly attracted the attention of Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leading politicians. HESS’s case has almost certainly not been helped by the fact that the acronym it uses was also the name of Hitler’s deputy.

For those who understand German, the program can be watched here:

The documentary alleged that HESS regularly searched temporary staff members’ accommodation and even frisked them after breakfast, to check that they did not steal rolls. On Friday, Amazon said it was looking into the claims, but early on Monday the U.S. company said it had parted ways with HESS:

“Amazon has secured that the criticized security service is not used any longer, effective immediately. As a responsible employer of approximately 8,000 salaried logistics employees, Amazon has zero-tolerance for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same from every company we work with.”

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  1. Bezos has to comprehend that because a firm’s management shares many aspects of his conservative politics – the remainder of their policies and ideology still may not.

    Or so one would hope.

    As Apple learned to investigate and manage working conditions abroad – years ago – it is a policy that should be adopted by other globally active American firms. Especially those operated by entrepreneurs whose personal conservative politics led them to believe this wasn’t important.

  2. The Cloudhopper Monday, February 18, 2013

    The significant thing here is the clothing brand “Thor Steinar”, which is wildly known to be know of the key insignia of neo-nazis.

    It goes as far as wearing it isn’t allowed in any german football arena and the federal parliament building. There were even efforts to outlaw the label completely, which failed, but there is a ridiculing campaing going on for the past 4 or 5 yeears revolving around the brand.

    That is a brand you don’t wear “by accident”, especially not in Germany (and not in the neo-nazi prone bouncer and “security” scene.).

  3. Amazon ignored the allegations for years … only after a TV team reported about it, the company fired the security firm. The problem is not the security firm, because these A… exist – the problem is when you hire A… to do your job. So it’s entirely Amazon’s problem. Nice try to divert responsibility – when in reality it has been Amazon’s responsibility all along. In Germany people start to boycott Amazon, because it took them forever to react to these allegations … whereas here in the US, Amazon tries to come across as the company who does not tolerate certain practices. Well, it seems to me they do … until it hurts their business, when the German customer doesn’t take it any longer and Amazon gets plenty of bad press.

  4. Why is GigaOm allowing ads in the comment space?

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