Germany: Amazon Accused of Hiring Neo-Nazi Guards to Intimidate Foreign Workers
By Gianluca Mezzofiore | February 15, 2013 10:51 PM EST
Amazon has been accused of hiring neo-Nazi security guards to intimidate more than 5,000 foreign workers from across Europe who work at its German packing and distribution centre.
In a documentary aired on the country's ARD television network, temporary workers described being harassed by guards who terrorised them by searching their bedrooms and kitchens.
Dressed in black uniforms and boots, the skinhead guards are said to have connections to Germany's neo-Nazi scene. The security firm employed by Amazon goes under the name of Hess Security. Adolf Hitler's deputy was Rudolf Hess.
The head of the company named only as Uwe L, who has a police record for football hooligananism and espousing neo-Nazi beliefs.
The guards were employed to monitor hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed, said the report. "They tell us they are the police here," a Spanish woman complained, as reported by the Independent.
Another worker said she was kicked out of the overcrowded chalet she shared with five others because she had dried her wet clothes on a wall heater.
Some of the guards were shown wearing Thor Steinar clothing, a Berlin-based designer brand associated with the far-right in Germany. Barred by both the German parliament and Football Association, the clothing has also been banned by Amazon.
At one point in the documentary, security members are filmed scuffling with the filmmakers.
Amazon employs 7,700 full-time staff at seven distrubution centres in Germany but hires thousands more to fulfil a surge in orders before Christmas.
Amazon has promised it will investigate reports that temporary staff were subjected to intimidation.
"Amazon tolerates no discrimination or intimidation," company spokeswoman Ulrike Stoecker said.
"Even though the security company wasn't hired by Amazon we are of course examining the allegations (...) and will take appropriate measures immediately."
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