Amazon shareholders are rejecting 14 resolutions regarding social change and workers' rights in the latest General Assembly, on Wednesday night in the US. This is a record figure for the business.
Some of these policies include a push for workers’ rights and ‘social’ issues, including reports on worker health and safety, the treatment of its warehouse staff, and the right to unionise. Other issues include proposed changes to the use of plastic and changes to the process for board nominations.
Amazon has recommended to its shareholders reject all of the proposed resolutions put forward, saying in its proxy statement that it has already taken action on the resolutions mentioned. Moreover, Amazon recommends rejecting said resolutions as ‘many processes [are] in place’, in terms of worker health and safety, and reducing waste.
The resolutions suggest that Amazon is ‘falling behind its peers’ in terms of recycling and reducing plastic packaging, and proposed to improve their recycling, reducing plastic demand by one third. In the proposal to remove plastic waste from Amazon packaging, a report from Pew found that if all current industry and government commitments were met, ocean plastic deposition could be reduced by seven percent. According to the report, Amazon does not currently disclose how much plastic packaging it uses, and is ‘believed to be one of the largest corporate users of flexible plastic packaging, which cannot be effectively recycled.”
“In contrast to consumer-packaged goods companies, Amazon’s greatest impact comes from helping other manufacturers reduce their use of plastic in packaging and reducing our own use of plastic for products repackaged for delivery,” the business said in response, suggesting that the shareholders reject the proposal. “In this regard, we have taken action to reduce reliance on the use of plastics in a number of areas, including products manufactured by other companies, packaging for shipment and delivery, our Amazon and other private label devices, and our physical stores.”
Workers’ Health & Safety
Regarding the treatment of its workers, the statement shared that as the second-largest employer of staff in the US, its health and safety issues have ‘a significant impact on its 1.3 million workers, their households and society’. Moreover, it shared that it is to the “extent that more workers of color are affected Amazon may perpetuate systemic racism”. The report cited that Amazon had ‘significantly’ higher injury rates at its warehouses, pre and post pandemic, and while Amazon has shared that it would be making ‘large’ investments in safety and initiatives, it does not publicly disclose the company’s lost time to injury rate, which it only shares to the federal government.
Again, Amazon recommended to its shareholders that they reject this resolution, saying that safety is internal to everything they do at Amazon. “Our founder and Executive Chair emphasized our commitment to safety in his 2020 Letter to Shareholders, stating that Amazon would strive to be “Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work.” Additionally, as we reaffirmed in our Amazon Global Human Rights Principles, we strive to be the most safety-centric organization in the world,” the statement read. “This includes providing a clean, safe, and healthy work environment where the health and safety of our workers is a key priority. For us, one incident is too many. We believe that all workers should come to work and return home safely. No matter who our employees are, where they work, or what they do, we are committed to their safety and well-being every day.”
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