Former Amazon staff have protested the company’s decision to remove its rules over the wearing of face masks.
Activists, ex-staff and members of the Southern Workers Assembly union held the protest outside one of the company’s warehouses in Durham, North Carolina.
Amazon said on Thursday, February 10 that fully vaccinated employees would no longer be required to wear masks when working inside the company’s warehouses.
Staff who had not been fully vaccinated would no longer be eligible for COVID-19-related paid leave, according to the corporation.
However, the decision sparked the rally, with demonstrators claiming that Amazon was not doing enough to keep workers safe.
The protesters marched around the facility carrying signs reading “safe jobs save lives” and “Amazon: Put workers before profits?”.
Dante Strobino, an organizer with the Southern Workers Assembly labor union, said the purpose of the demonstration was, “to demand hazard pay, social distancing, continued enforcement of masks and they need to supply N95 masks.”
Gloria Lee, a former employee, added she did not agree with the decision to drop the mask mandate.
She said: “I don’t think that’s a good idea because they’re still not saving jobs. They’re not practicing safety,”
Amazon’s announcement came around the same time Walmart, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase also took steps to relax the rules immediately after the company mask mandates.
Amazon’s memo said: “There has been a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases across the country over the past weeks.
“Along with increasing vaccination rates across the country, this is a positive sign we can return to the path to normal operations.”
In Durham County cases have fallen by 62 percent over the last two weeks and hospitalizations by 26 percent.
There have been 10 reported COVID-19-related deaths over that time.
A research published by the Washington State Health Department of nearly 4 million fully vaccinated adults found that the number of breakthrough cases is increasing.
A report from Johns Hopkins Medicine said: “The data showed a rate of about 1 in 5,000 experienced a breakthrough infection between January 17 and August 21, 2021.
“More recently, some populations have shown breakthrough infection rates of approximately 1 in 100 fully vaccinated people.
With the risk relatively low and incidents on the decline, localities around the country have also sought to relax masking and vaccination proof laws.
Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, and Washington, D.C. have all taken steps to return their towns to pre-pandemic normalcy.
Despite these moves at the local level, the federal government has been slower to shift its stance.
President Joe Biden on Thursday, February 10 told: “I committed that I would follow the science, the science as put forward by the CDC, and the federal people. And I think it’s probably premature, but it’s, you know, it’s a tough call,”