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Amazon Fires Contractor and Gets Ahead of Corporate Reputation Concerns




Amazon-LogoMaybe Amazon is taking a real lesson from fellow corporate giant Apple and their seemingly endless woes with having Foxconn as a manufacturer of some of the world’s most popular products. The massive online retailer is getting out in front of what could be a blown up out of proportion situation (as just about anything and everything is these days anyway) by cutting ties with a German company of questionable character.

The Washington Post reports

Online retailer Amazon reacted to mounting criticism Monday by firing a security company named in a German television documentary about alleged mistreatment of foreign temporary workers.

An Amazon spokeswoman in Germany said the company had ended its relationship with Hensel European Security Services “with immediate effect.”

“Amazon has a zero tolerance limit for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same of other companies we work with,” spokeswoman Ulrike Stoecker said in an email to The Associated Press.

So what’s wrong with the Hensel European Security Company? Well, it looks like they aren’t exactly the nicest guys on the block according to findings.

A documentary shown on German public television channel ARD last week showed staff of the security company — whose initials spell out the surname of Adolf Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess — wearing clothes linked to Germany’s neo-Nazi scene. It also interviewed people claiming they were intimidated by the security guards, who were stationed at a holiday camp where the temporary staff were housed.

The company, hired by one of Amazon’s subcontractors, last week denied it supported far-right opinions. “We employ Christians, Muslims and Buddhists,” the company said in a statement Friday. “The allegations of far-right sympathies can’t be reconciled with that.”

The ARD documentary alleged a broader climate of intimidation at Amazon’s seven logistics centers in Germany, including threats of random staff searches, constant pressure to perform better and firing of workers who complained.

First off, if a company is ignorant enough to in anyway associate themselves with any form of Nazi comparison they should be fired not so much for being racist but for just being plain stupid. You can add whatever PC motives you have in your PC arsenal to make is it sound like you are doing something based on the greater good but even Forest Gump knew that “stupid is as stupid does”.

What is interesting is that last paragraph of the quote above could be applied to plenty of businesses. My 70 year old mom works in a bank where there are constant threats of being fired for not hitting quotas. Is that just hard management or is that morally wrong? The answer is likely to lie with each readers’ own personal list of peccadilloes. To be sure this case gets even thornier since it involves immigrant workers (did I forget to mention that? Sorry).

So why did Amazon take this measure? Probably because they can without great impact to their business. Another overseer of these security operations can be found and can avoid a whole lot of reputation damage with this ‘relatively simple’ move.

So why doesn’t Apple get rid of their supplier, Foxconn, who is known as much for putting nets around buildings to prevent more worker suicides as it is for making manufacturing electronics? Well, Foxconn makes a lot of the pieces of the iPhone. No Foxconn means no product and that means less billions to bank for Apple. You can’t have that now, can we?

So it looks like Amazon is getting out ahead of a potential reputation s&^tstorm and firing the offender ‘toot sweet’. Today, if companies are not willing to stay out in front of issues like this and avoid a ‘story’ growing out of control which might eventually impact the performance of the business, they are likely to get what they deserve.