“Normal” accidents at work, unjustified disciplinary measures and “hellish” work pace: Several employees and ex-employees from Amazon warehouses in the greater Montreal area denounced their working conditions on Friday morning.
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During a joint press conference with the CSN, several people admitted to suffering reprisals after appealing to the Commission on Standards, Equality, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST).
According to these employees, among other things, the multinational offered money to withdraw complaints filed with CNESST after an accident at work.
“We were aware that Amazon was doing everything possible to evade the obligation to report any work-related injury to CNESST or to contest any claim,” said Mostafa Henaway, community organizer at the Center des travaux immigrants (CTI).
“But to hear today that action is being taken against injured workers who are exercising their statutory right to compensation and healthy recovery, to hear that Amazon is promising some of them money if their complaints to CNESST are dropped, to learn that Amazon is doing so goes far to dismissing employees who have dared to sue after an accident at work, that is incomprehensible.
A former employee who was met by TVA Nouvelles claimed to have been fired without good reason after suffering an injury.
“I always did my best and after two years I was fired without explanation,” he lamented.
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CSN Vice President David Bergeron-Cyr alleges that workers at Amazon’s Greater Montreal warehouses are working in conditions that violate their dignity.
“Amazon workers, they are wage slaves,” he claimed.
“These people just want to be respected and get a decent salary.”
A second Amazon employee met by TVA Nouvelles denounced the number of hours the company is asking for, which he says is crippling.
“After working 50 hours a week, I can’t do anything anymore. I’ve become a zombie,” he lamented.
Employer interference was also denounced in the midst of the union organizing process.
Anti-union posters, messages urging people to organize, meetings with executives from across North America – the company would have used any means necessary to prevent the formation of a union.
“We saw how Amazon acted in the United States, we knew the campaign was going to be difficult. We are dealing with one of the worst employers in the world,” said David Bergeron-Cyr, describing the employer’s actions as a “real fear campaign”.
For its part, Amazon Canada says it prefers a “third party”-free relationship.
In an email to TVA Nouvelles, spokeswoman Ryma Boussoufa wrote: “As a company, we do not believe that unions are the best answer for our employees.”