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Amazon increases worker pay, ramps up hiring to cover COVID-19 needs

Amazon is upping its pay rates by $2 an hour in the U.S and hiring for 100,000 new full- and part-time positions across the country in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a blog post today, the company also said it would be upping rates by 2 euros an hour in the EU and 2 British pounds an hour in the U.K.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Amazon and our network of partners are helping communities around the world in a way that very few can — delivering critical supplies directly to the doorsteps of people who need them,” the company said in the post.

When contacted, an Amazon spokesperson said the rate hike would last “through April,” and after that revert to $15 an hour. In other words, it would not be a permanent raise. Amazon also said that the “commitment to increased pay represents an investment of over $350 million in increased compensation for hourly employees across the U.S., Europe, and Canada.”

The post also specifically cited people who work in sectors like hospitality, travel, and restaurants who were laid off or otherwise out of work, and said all these people were “welcome on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back.”

As quarantines, recommendations for social distancing, and “work from home” orders become more widespread, so too has online ordering and the demand for fast product delivery of such items as soap, hand sanitizer, and face masks.

Motherboard has reported great logistical challenges up and down the supply chain. Meeting Prime two-day shipping demands, Amazon’s gold standard, for Amazon Prime’s 150 million subscribers has proven difficult for the world’s biggest store.

Amazon Fresh, the grocery delivery service, has been experiencing delays, according to GeekWire, and Amazon has struggled to keep its supply chain from breaking down while China is in lockdown mode, the New York Times reported.

Increased ordering volumes has also led to increased demands on workers, who have been circulating an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, demanding better worker protections, not just more pay. Bezos has been under pressure from several sides from his workers, especially in regard to community health and climate change.

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