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Some workers at food delivery company Instacart and US and Italian workers at Amazon have walked out, complaining of inadequate protection.

Pressure is growing on Amazon and other delivery companies to improve protection for workers worried about getting infected with coronavirus.

US senators have also written to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to express concerns.

Instacart and Amazon have said they are taking extra precautions, amid booming demand for delivery services due to the virus.

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An Amazon spokesman said in a statement: “We are going to great lengths to keep the buildings extremely clean and help employees practice important precautions such as social distancing and other measures.

“Those who don’t want to work are welcome to use paid and unpaid time off options and we support them in doing so.”

Amazon said it had adjusted its practices, including increased cleaning of its facilities and introducing staggered shift and break times.

In Italy, Amazon said it had reduced deliveries since March 22. However, union leaders say workers need access to better protection.

“Several employees working at the site use face masks for days instead of having new ones each day,” one union representative told Reuters.

A group of workers at Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, plan to walk out on March 31, citing similar problems.

Whole foods told NBC it has “taken extensive measures to keep people safe.”

In 2019, the company faced criticism for cutting healthcare benefits for 1,900 part-time employees.

Earlier this month, Jeff Bezos – who is one of the world’s richest people with an estimated $115.6 billion fortune – addressed the worries in an open letter to staff, thanking them for their work.

Amazon, which is looking to hire 100,000 more warehouse workers in the US to help address the surge in orders, has also said it would boost pay for warehouse staff around the world, including by $2 per hour in the US and by £2 per hour in the UK, where staff have been told to work overtime.

However, US lawmakers have questioned Amazon over reports of shortages of protective and cleaning supplies, as well as its sick leave policies.

Amazon earlier faced strikes by workers in France and Italy and has been hit by legal complaints over the issues in Spain, according to a global alliance of unions coordinated by UNI Global Union.

A strike on March 30 against Instacart was organized by the Instacart Shoppers and Gig Workers collective, which had accused the company of profiting by putting people making its deliveries “directly in harm’s way”.

They said the company should provide protective gear, offer hazard pay and extend the pay for those unable to work because of the virus, whether due to a required quarantine or pre-existing condition.

On March 29, after the call about March 30 strike, Instacart said it was working with a manufacturer to produce its own hand sanitizer and changing its tip policy. It had earlier said it would pay bonuses and provide 14 days of sick leave for its shoppers or part-time employees diagnosed with the virus or placed under isolation orders.


Amazon has announced that it is buying Whole Foods in a $13.7 billion deal that marks its biggest push into traditional retailing yet.

The online retail giant, which has been experimenting with grocery offerings, will buy the upscale supermarket for $42 a share.

Founded in 1978 in Texas, Whole Foods was a pioneer of the move towards natural and organic foods.

Whole Foodshas grown to more than 460 stores in the US, Canada and the UK, and employs about 87,000 people globally.

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Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said: “Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy.

“Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

Whole Foods has been under pressure from investors amid declining same-store sales. Last month, the company named a new chief financial officer and new board members.

In April, activist investor Jana Partners called Whole Foods’ shares undervalued, noting “chronic underperformance”.

The price being paid by Amazon marks a 27% premium to the level Whole Foods’ shares closed at on June 15.

The takeover deal is expected to be completed in the second half of the year.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said: “This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers.”

John Mackey is expected to stay on as chief executive.


Whole Foods has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle accusations by New York authorities that it routinely overcharged customers.

The city’s Department for Consumer Affairs (DCA) said the upmarket grocery chain had to meet standards on weighing and labeling.

The deal means customers “are better protected from overcharging”, it said.Whole Foods overcharging settlement

Whole Foods admitted to making mistakes but said there was “no evidence of systematic or intentional misconduct”.

The natural foods and organic retailer said it agreed to the settlement, which was below the $1.5 million originally demanded by the DCA, “to put this issue behind us so that we can continue to focus our attention on providing NYC customers with the highest level of quality and service”.

The DCA first accused Whole Foods in June after an investigation found mislabeled weights on 80 types of pre-packaged products it tested.

Whole Foods was said to have overstated weights of pre-packaged meat, dairy and baked products.

In 2014, Whole Foods agreed to pay $800,000 in penalties and improve pricing accuracy after a separate investigation into alleged pricing irregularities in California.