MEPs call for debate on ‘Amazon’ amid growing concerns over worker safety

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Several MPs have called on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to appear before the European Parliament next week “to be held accountable for his highly questionable business model”.

MEPs also ask that a specific debate be held during the plenary session which begins Monday in Strasbourg.

The demand for Bezos to appear personally, or at least online, before MEPs comes as parliamentarians’ anger grows over his company’s alleged violations of basic working conditions for Amazon staff.

Bezos declined to attend a recent workshop in parliament on workers’ rights, but pressure on him to be questioned by MEPs has gained ground in recent days with new reports on worker safety in the ‘business.

On Thursday, a report said that employees at Amazon’s U.S. warehouses are injured at a higher rate than those performing similar work in warehouses of other companies.

The union-backed safety data study found that Amazon workers suffered 5.9 serious injuries per 100 people, nearly 80% more than the rest of the industry. Study organizers blamed Amazon’s “obsession with speed” as the main cause of the problem.

Separately, a webinar hosted by the S&D group in Parliament heard a study by Professor Alessandro Delfanti of the University of Toronto on Amazon’s labor practices. The study expressed “serious concerns” about the way Amazon treats its employees.

“The increase in profits recorded by Amazon as a result of the pandemic gives us even more reason to call for a thorough review of the company’s practices. European money and European workers are at stake “Pedro Marques, MEP

Another study, this time commissioned by the GUE / NGL group in the European Parliament, calls into question the company’s record in paying taxes.

Research indicates that the Luxembourg subsidiaries of Amazon are reporting massive operating losses due to their non-U.S. Business relationships. This, it is claimed, allows the company to collect “carry-over losses” that it allegedly turns into tax credits in the United States. This, say the authors of the report, means that the company “very likely pays little or no tax at all.”

GUE / NGL co-leader Martin Schirdewan demanded “proactive action” from the EU to “fight tax evasion”.

S&D MEP Pedro Marques said: “It is European lawmakers, not companies, who make the law in the EU. Amazon should keep this in mind when it tramples on workers’ rights. “

He added: “European union leaders representing more than 12 million workers have signed a letter urging the European institutions to open an investigation into potentially illegal Amazon activities against Amazon workers in Europe.

“This means that there is a serious problem and if the management of the company refuses to be held responsible, we want to hear from the man himself. Jeff Bezos is due to appear before the European Parliament.

“The increase in profits recorded by Amazon as a result of the pandemic gives us even more reason to call for a thorough review of the company’s practices. European money and European workers are at stake. “

Last month, the European Court of Justice ruled on appeals against the Commission’s inquiries into tax deals with Amazon and French multinational ENGIE. Commission investigations into the so-called ‘soft deals’ with Luxembourg revealed that the tax arrangements with ENGIE and Luxembourg were in breach of EU state aid rules. The court rejected the Commission’s decision regarding Amazon.

“There are currently no plans for a debate on Amazon, but MEPs hope the issue can still be added to what will be a ‘hybrid’ session in Strasbourg next week. This means MEPs will have the opportunity to attend personally or follow the proceedings online. Any parliamentary staff present should be quarantined upon their return. “

There are currently no plans for a debate on Amazon, but MEPs hope the issue can still be added to what will be a “hybrid” session in Strasbourg next week.

This means that MEPs will be able to attend personally or follow the debates online. Any parliamentary staff present should be quarantined upon their return.

Next week also marks President Joe Biden’s first overseas visit since being elected during his visit to the UK and Belgium. Biden will be in the UK to meet with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on June 10 and attend the G7 summit June 11-13 in Cornwall before traveling to Brussels for the NATO summit on June 14.

MEPs, meanwhile, will address a busy agenda in the monthly plenary, including the final approval of the EU’s COVID digital certificate, which aims to facilitate travel within the EU during the pandemic in course and contribute to economic recovery.

Following the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk and the arrest of a Belarusian journalist, MEPs and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will also debate the EU’s response .

MEPs will also vote on whether the EU should ask the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines while, on Tuesday, members will discuss with the Commission and the Council of national stimulus plans submitted so far by EU Member States.

On Monday, members will also debate the EU’s new biodiversity strategy 2030 and are expected to call for better protection of the EU’s land and sea areas in a vote.

Later this week, MEPs will ask the Council and Commission for details on plans to apply the new rule of law conditionality rules to protect the EU budget.

On Wednesday, Parliament will vote on a resolution calling for the resolution of the Czech Prime Minister’s now confirmed conflict of interest, while the next day MEPs will also question the Commission on how it intends to ensure equal opportunities in the labor market for people with autism.

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