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Amazon publicly challenged by its own employees

Amazon had nearly 650,000 permanent employees at the end of 2018, according to the company's annual report. Reed Saxon / AP

More than 300 Amazon employees signed their names on Sunday (January 26th) against the large American company specializing in distribution, particularly its environmental policy, in defiance of the rules of procedure which presupposes prior authorization from the hierarchy.

The publication of these testimonials on the Medium site was organized by the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ), which pushes the company to go further in its mitigation plan announced with great publicity in September. Members of the group have publicly criticized the company, and several have been called to order by management, at the risk of dismissal.

“This action was taken to protest the recently refreshed regulation that prohibits employees from speaking publicly about the business of the business without prior authorization”, underlines a press release from AECJ.

“As Amazon employees we are responsible not only for the success of the business but also for its impact. It is our moral responsibility to speak out and the changes in the regulations prevent us from exercising this responsibility. ”, writes Sarah Tracy, computer engineer at Amazon.

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“Carbon neutrality” objective

It is common for companies to demand – like Amazon – a duty of restraint from their employees when it comes to publicly discussing their activities and even more so to openly questioning them. Amazon had nearly 650,000 permanent employees at the end of 2018, according to the company's annual report.

If the environment is the subject of many criticisms posted Sunday, Amazon is also criticized for other activities such as the provision of its artificial intelligence capabilities for companies in the oil sector.

Amazon is often criticized for its carbon footprint because of the energy consumption of its huge server farms for its very lucrative activities in the “Cloud” (cloud computing). And of course the company has built its success on a huge logistical network of road transport to ensure increasingly fast deliveries which generate a lot of greenhouse gases, the main culprits of climate change.

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On September 19, Jeff Bezos, founder of the company and incidentally the richest man in the world, made public commitments in terms of the environment, promising in particular that Amazon will reach carbon neutrality in 2040. This is insufficient according to the AECJ which claims to get there in 2030

Mark Hiew, marketing director at Amazon judges that “Now is not the time to silence people. We need rules that encourage more open discourse, more solutions and more determined and concerted action on climate change and its causes ”.

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