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Amazon is planning to offer permanent roles to as many as 70% of the 175,000 new US workers it hired to meet surging demand during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the company told Reuters Thursday. The company will reportedly begin offering long-term employment to 125,000 of those workers in June, leaving the other 50,000 with seasonal contracts that run for 11 months.
The move signals confidence on Amazon’s part that the high demand for delivery of groceries and other essential home goods isn’t likely to subside anytime soon, even as many states in the US begin to ease coronavirus lockdowns.
Amazon’s hiring blitz came quickly as people turned to online shopping amid government stay-at-home orders. The expanded workforce has seen its share of turbulence in the weeks since, including protests over working conditions and at least five deaths from COVID-19. While Amazon raised worker wages and expanded overtime pay last month, the company also faced controversy after firing six employees who had spoken out in protest against the company. Amazon said the firings were due to violations of internal policies and not retaliatory.
“We didn’t fire anyone for speaking out about working conditions,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said during the company’s virtual shareholder meeting this week. “We support every employee’s right to criticize their employers working conditions, but that also doesn’t mean that they’re allowed to not follow internal policies. But for sure your rights to protest working conditions, we take that super seriously and we have no problem with that at all.”
Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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