BERLIN – “Disgusting,” “inhuman,” “unbelievable” – that was the tenor of thousands of comments that have been left in recent hours on Amazon Germany's Facebook page. The outrage followed an incendiary documentary about the e-commerce giant aired on German Television ARD on Thursday night.
Customers also passed on info to other users on how to cancel their Amazon account, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Filmmakers Diana Löbl and Peter Onneken accused Amazon of hiring workers lured from all over Europe by false promises that they would get a work contract directly with the firm. The workers are allegedly monitored around-the-clock by guards from a security company accused of having links to Neo-Nazi groups.
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Thor Steinar is a favorite of Neo-Nazi groups in Germany (insight blog)
The immigrant workers earn a gross hourly wage of 8.52 euros but only learn this two days before they are scheduled to leave their country. Shifts can included up to 15 days in a row without a day off; and they are housed in crowded conditions in empty holiday camps. Room and board are deducted from their wages.
Selling everything from books to coffee pots to toilet paper, Amazon has a 25% share of the German mail-order market, with a 2012 turnover of 6.8 billion euros.
Löbl told Süddeutsche Zeitung that Amazon personnel is watched 24 hours a day – on the job and then in the housing compounds by a security firm suspected of ties to Neo-Nazi groups. The firm is called HESS Security, which the filmmakers suspect of being a reference to top Hitler deputy Rudolph Hess. The guards are shown dressed in Thor Steinar clothing, a brand so strongly associated with Germany's far-right scene that its products have been banned at soccer matches and the German parliament.
The guards allegedly threatened the filmmakers and destroyed some of their footage.