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Amazon fires German security firm
18.02.13 | Lisa Campbell
Amazon has fired the security company it employed to oversee its warehouse operations over Christmas in Germany after reports emerged guards had been intimidating staff.
Amazon has terminated its relationship with Hensel European Security Services (HESS) “with immediate effect”. The move follows mounting pressure on the retailer after the German ARD Channel last week broadcast a documentary featuring security staff employed by HESS in a warehouse in Bad Hersfeld, Hesse, which claimed Spanish employees brought in to cover the Christmas period were constantly watched, frisked and had their rooms searched to see if they had stolen bread.
A spokesperson for Amazon in Germany said: “Amazon has secured that the criticised security service is not used any longer, effective immediately. As a responsible employer of approximately 8,000 salaried logistics employees, Amazon has zero tolerance for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same from every company we work with.”
The German government has also intervened. Employment minister Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to cancel the licences of companies contracted by Amazon to find temporary workers and provide site security if the programme’s allegations proved true, according to the Independent.
The ARD team is said to have captured footage of the guards wearing black uniforms and boots, and sporting military haircuts and Thor Steinar clothing, a brand synonymous with the far right and banned from many German institutions. The guards have been accused of intimidating staff and one woman said she had been thrown out of her accommodation for drying clothes on a wall heater, according to the documentary.
HESS denied that its staff were linked to neo-Nazi groups, although it admitted it had conducted room searches.