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US Amazon workers protest and strike over unpaid leave and hours cap

AMAZON workers in the United States have staged walkouts and protests this week to press their demands for paid leave and an end to an hours cap that deprives them of health insurance.

Staff at a warehouse in Sacramento formed a group called Amazonians United, Sacramento after a colleague was sacked for taking unpaid bereavement leave following the death of her mother.

Though she had requested the leave, time spent in the hospital while her mother was dying meant she had exceeded her three-day allowance and she was dismissed on her return to work.

Colleagues have submitted a petition to management demanding her reinstatement and paid leave.

On Wednesday night, 60 workers in Eagan, Minnestota, mostly women of Somali and East African origin, walked off the job for a two-and-a-half-hour protest over conditions.

Workers say they are all kept to less than 30 hours a week, meaning that Amazon does not need to provide them with medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act. 

They also complain that if they take more than 20 hours off per quarter, even though it is unpaid, they can be sacked.

There is no sick pay, even when injuries are caused by lifting heavy boxes at work, and every day taken brings them closer to a 10-day annual maximum that gives managers the right to terminate their employment.

Night-shift worker Fadumo Yusuf said the firm claimed it could only hire people part time but was still recruiting. “We have no value here,” she said. “They treat us like we are not humans.”

Her interview can be viewed at workdayminnesota.org/they-treat-us-like-we-are%E2%80%8B-not-humans.

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