NEW YORK, AP – Amazon has apologised for a tweet it sent to a US politician more than a week ago denying the company’s employees work so hard they must urinate in empty water bottles.
It also admitted some delivery drivers might have had to urinate in bottles and it vowed to improve their working conditions.
The matter was first raised on March 24 by Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan, who responded to a tweet by an Amazon executive that said the company was a progressive workplace.
“Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,” Pocan said in his tweet.
Amazon responded: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”
In a blog post on Friday night, Amazon apologised to Pocan and acknowledged delivery drivers “can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes”.
The online shopping giant said COVID-19 has made the issue worse, since many public restrooms are closed.
“Sigh”, Pocan responded in a Saturday morning tweet.
“This is not about me, this is about your workers – who you don’t treat with enough respect or dignity.”
Amazon said urinating in bottles was an industry-wide problem, and shared links to news articles about drivers for other delivery companies who have had to do so.
“Regardless of the fact that this is industry-wide, we would like to solve it,” the company said.
Amazon’s treatment of workers has been a hot topic as it faces the biggest union push in its history at an Alabama warehouse.
Organisers there are pushing for more break time and better pay.
Seattle-based Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.