Amazon is a corporation famous for a number of things: revolutionizing retail, making its founder and CEO the world’s richest man, and creating workplaces that resemble 19th century sweatshops. All these features are on display at the moment. With millions of people on lockdown, online shopping becomes mandatory and money pours into Jeff Bezos’s already ridiculously deep pockets (revenues of $75.4 billion in the first three months of the year). His treatment of his workforce also remains current news. As dozens of Amazon warehouses confirm employees testing positive for coronavirus, many workers have staged walkouts, complaining about safety conditions and the hectic pace. Some have been rewarded for their audacity by being fired.

For one executive this was the last straw. The Canadian vice-president of Amazon Web Services, Tim Bray, resigned in protest. “I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of COVID-19,” he said. He went on to say that the big problem wasn’t the specifics of the Covid-19 response, but “that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential.” Bray’s complete statement is on his blog here. It makes for interesting reading, not just for his views on Amazon, but on 21st century capitalism generally.

Bray claims that his resignation will cost him over a million bucks in salary and shares, “not to mention the best job I’ve ever had.” He is not, as he points out in his blog, in the same boat as the warehouse workers. They “are weak and getting weaker” whereas he, as a high tech worker, is very well-paid and “can walk across the street and get another job paying the same or better.” He claims that he is already getting offers from rival tech firms, including Google and Huawei. I wish him luck.

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