Amazon’s $4bn push to vaccinate its supply chain

Linda J. Dodson

Such fulfilment centres would, according to Galloway, be the keystones “of the world’s first vaccinated supply chain”, allowing customers to have greater confidence that products sold and delivered through Amazon were not vectors of Covid-19. “I don’t think anybody else can do this,” said Galloway.

“There are just so few organisations that have the capital and control of the entire supply chain to even conceive of doing this… to be honest, my mind is blown.”

He said Amazon was in a unique position because it could control the three key aspects of its supply chain: choice of goods coming to its warehouses, the warehouses themselves, and, finally, delivery.

Many rival retailers – even giants like Walmart – rely on third party couriers for home delivery. And rival delivery firms, like FedEx, do not control what they ship. “FedEx can’t call a toy manufacturer and say, ‘Can you pull this product down from your website, because it’s difficult to manage to a certain level of distancing, picking and packing,” said Galloway.

In the UK, Amazon controls the shipment of most of its packages, through Amazon Logistics, now the largest private delivery firm in the country.

Not everyone is happy with the measures the company is taking. According to the Washington Post (a title owned by Bezos), Amazon fired two employees, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, who were critical of its working conditions.

Then, earlier this month, Tim Bray, an Amazon vice president, resigned noting “it’s a matter of fact that workers are saying they’re at risk” and issuing a condemnation of the “toxicity” in the company’s culture which included “firing whistle-blowers”. “I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison,” he added.

Several US senators have since sent Bezos a letter asking Amazon to reveal its policies for disciplining those who raise concerns about workplace safety. “Since the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic began,” the letter notes, “Amazon has fired at least four Amazon workers who had publicly raised concerns about safety conditions in Amazon warehouses.”

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