Amazon raises overtime pay for warehouse workers

Amazon has offered unlimited unpaid time off to encourage employees to stay home if they don’t feel well. (File/AFP)
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Updated 21 March 2020

Amazon raises overtime pay for warehouse workers

  • Hourly workers at the warehouses will receive double pay after 40 hours for overtime, up from the 1.5-times rate, from March 15 to May 9
  • This is the second time the e-commerce giant announced an improvement in pay for its workers in a week

SEATTLE: Amazon.com Inc. said on Saturday it is raising overtime pay for associates working in its US warehouses, as the world’s largest online retailer tries to meet the rapidly growing demand for online shopping from consumers stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak.
Hourly workers at the warehouses will receive double pay after 40 hours for overtime, up from the 1.5-times rate, from March 15 to May 9, the announcement said.
“All hourly associates working in the US Ops network will receive double their regular hourly rate for every overtime hour worked in a workweek,” the company said in a statement. “This temporary increased overtime pay is effective March 15, 2020 and will continue through May 9. 2020.”
This is the second time the e-commerce giant announced an improvement in pay for its workers in a week. On Monday, Amazon hiked the hourly rate for associates to $17 from $15 and announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States as the virus outbreak boosts online orders.
As the virus spreads across the United States, Amazon has offered unlimited unpaid time off to encourage employees to stay home if they don’t feel well. It has also staggered workers shifts and prohibited employees from sitting next to each other in the lunchroom to limit contact.
But four Democratic US senators, including Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders on Friday expressed concern in a letter to Amazon’s Chief Executive Jeff Bezos that the world’s largest online retailer has not taken enough measures to protect its warehouse staff. They specifically asked if the company would provide “time-and-a-half” hazard pay for its workers. {nL1N2BE02N]
Amazon on Thursday reported its first employee in the United States tested positive for the virus, forcing the company to temporarily shutter a warehouse in New York.
As the virus spreads across the United States, several clothing retailers and department-store chains have shut stores and cafe and restaurant operators have closed down or limited services to delivery and take-away.
Online retailers and grocery stores are trying to capture rising demand as more Americans are ordered to stay at home to reduce the spread of the outbreak.
Rival retailer Walmart Inc. said on Thursday it plans to hire 150,000 hourly associates in the US and announced $550 million in cash bonuses to reward workers.
The highly contagious coronavirus has infected more than 274,800 people across the world and led to more than 11,300 deaths globally forcing governments across the world to issue mass lockdowns of people in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.


Greece readies revival of coronavirus-hit economy

Updated 04 June 2020

Greece readies revival of coronavirus-hit economy

  • Tourism accounts for around 20 percent of Greek gross domestic product
  • Greece desperately needs to attract visitors this year

ATHENS: Greece geared up Thursday to revive its tourism-dependent economy, which shrank in the first quarter owing to measures against the coronavirus, the Elstat data agency said.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is to headline an event later in the day to unveil a national tourism campaign for the virus-shortened season.
He has already warned the country that the economy would fall into a “deep recession” this year before rebounding in 2021.
Tourism accounts for around 20 percent of Greek gross domestic product (GDP), so it is crucial that visitors be attracted back to the nation’s beaches and iconic island villages.
Toward that end, Greece has announced a ‘bridge phase’ between June 15 and 30, during which airports in Athens and Thessaloniki will receive regular passenger flights.
Other regional and island airports are to open on July 1.
Greece plans to impose a seven- to 14-day quarantine only on travelers from only the hardest-hit areas as identified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Sample tests will also be carried out at entry points for epidemiological purposes however.
Provisional data released by Elstat showed how important it is to get the tourism sector back on its feet.
GDP fell by 1.6 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the previous three months, and by 0.9 percent year-on-year, the data showed.
But data for March alone showed that month was not as bad as expected, government spokesman Stelios Petsas told a press conference.
Now, “Greece is opening its gates to the world under safe conditions for tourism workers, for residents of tourism destinations and of course, for our visitors,” he said.
With fewer than 180 coronavirus deaths among 11 million residents, Greece seeks to market itself as a healthy holiday destination.
On Tuesday, Athens said it was suspending flights to and from Qatar until June 15 after 12 people on a flight from Doha tested positive for COVID-19.
Earlier Thursday, Greek media reported that a first batch of nearly 190 tests among residents of the Cycladic islands, one of Greece’s most popular destinations, had turned up negative.
The country desperately needs to attract visitors this year.
The latest finance ministry estimate suggests that for 2020 as a whole, business activity could drop by up to 13 percent from the level in 2019.
Between 2009 and 2018, Greece suffered its worst economic crisis in modern times, and had begun to slowly regain some of the lost ground before it was hit by the impact of coronavirus restrictions.
The country was shut down for six weeks, and the International Monetary Fund forecast in May that GDP would decline by 10 percent this year before growing by 5.5 percent in 2021.