NEW YORK (VINnews) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos came under intense criticism after landing from his first space trip, when he mentioned casually that he wished to thank the employees and customers of Amazon since they paid for his space trip. “You guys payed for all this,” Bezos quipped.
Besoz’s statement highlighted the fact that his 5.5 billion dollar Blue Origin space program was paid for by the billionaire himself at a time when most Amazon workers receive minimum wages and work under exceedingly difficult employment conditions. Newspapers regularly report how workers even forgo bathroom breaks and are forced to urinate in bottles in order not to meet packaging targets which have increased exponentially in recent times.
In a recent survey by worker’s rights company Organize, it was revealed that 74 percent of workers avoid using the toilet for fear of being warned they had missed their target numbers. Rising goals have also taken a toll on employees’ mental health, as 55 percent of them report having suffered depression since working at Amazon, and 80% said they would not apply again for a job in the company.
Robert Reich, former secretary of labour under President Bill Clinton and a professor of public policy at University of California, Berkeley, wrote on Twitter that Bezos had crushed unionising attempts for decades.
“Amazon workers don’t need Bezos to thank them. They need him to stop union busting — and pay them what they deserve,” Reich wrote.
Added to public indignation is the fact that Bezos has hardly paid any income taxes in the past few years. Despite his wealth growing by over 130 billion dollars between 2006-2018, Bezos only paid 1.4 billion dollars in taxes over that period or just over 1%. Bezos’s philanthropic activity is also meagre, with the billionaire stating after landing in Texas that he would donate 200 million dollars. His former wife Mackenzie already donated 5 billion dollars of her wealth, which is much inferior to Bezos’s own, in 2020.
Randy Horgan of the Teamsters, a union which seeks to represent Amazon workers, said that “If Bezos really wishes to show appreciation to Amazon workers, he should listen to their demands to improve work conditions and create good jobs which can maintain middle-class families instead of continuing the exploitative economic model of high-pace, high-risk work for low salaries.”
Dystopian $200-billionaire sci-fi villain mega-oligarch Jeff Bezos accidentally acknowledges the surplus value of labor, laughing that the wealth he ruthlessly extracted from Amazon employees paid for him to take his pointless ego trip to spacepic.twitter.com/ibBiKiWTTT
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) July 21, 2021
Left-wing politicians like Bernie Sanders were also quick to latch on to Bezos’s statement, pointing out that “half a million people are sleeping in the street and 1 in 6 kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”