In February 2019, Ethical Consumer searched Amazon's US website and found that it listed stun guns, pepper sprays and knuckle dusters. None of these items were listed on the company's UK website, nor could they be shipped to the UK. Amazon lost half a mark under Arms & Military Supply for the sale of weapons.

Reference:

https://www.amazon.com/ (13 August 2018)

In July 2019 Ethical Consumer contacted Amazon.com for information on its supply chain management. No questionnaire was returned, and Amazon’s website was viewed. The 'Responsible Sourcing' page included a Code of Conduct.

Supply chain policy (rudimentary)
Amazon stated “We require suppliers in our manufacturing supply chain and suppliers supporting Amazon's operations to comply with our Supplier Code of Conduct...Amazon also expects our suppliers to hold their suppliers and subcontractors to the standards and practices covered by our Supplier Code.” This Code contained adequate clauses on child and forced labour, freedom of association, and discrimination. Working hours were only restricted to 60 per week, and there was no commitment to living wages. Amazon was considered to have a rudimentary supply chain policy.

Stakeholder engagement (poor)
No evidence could be found that Amazon engaged with external organisations to monitor its supply chain, or that it was part of a multistakeholder initiative. It stated that "Suppliers must create a mechanism for workers to submit their grievances anonymously", but did not provide this itself.

Auditing and reporting (poor)
Amazon stated “We regularly assess suppliers to monitor continued compliance and improvement; many sites are assessed multiple times a year, including for follow-up assessments to address specific findings. Amazon may terminate its relationships with any supplier that violates our Supplier Code or does not cooperate during assessments ... We require suppliers to promptly provide a detailed remediation plan and take corrective actions for deviations from this Supplier Code, and Amazon will track suppliers’ remediation efforts."
Ethical Consumer considered this audit plan to be vague, nor did the company disclose audit results or provide a commitment to audit its whole supply chain. Overall Amazon was considered to have a poor approach to auditing and reporting.

Difficult issues (poor)
No evidence could be found that Amazon was working on systemically addressing difficult issues found within supply chains such as payment of a living wage or illegal freedom of association. Overall Amazon was considered to have a poor approach to difficult issues.

Amazon therefore received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for Supply Chain Management.

Reference:

www.amazon.co.uk (4 February 2019)

The Independent reported on 17th August 2015 that a petition had been launched urging Amazon to stop selling books written by a controversial blogger who had called for rape committed in a private place to be legalised.

The anti-feminist blogger Daryush Valizadeh, or ‘Roosh V’, allegedly shared tips on how to ‘pick-up' women on his website, (such as “stop asking for permission”), and in his self-published books, which gave advice on how to have more sex with women in different countries.

One of Valizadeh’s blog posts in February was widely condemned for advocating the legalisation of rape in order to force women to take responsibility for their security and events “that are easily preventable”. It also claimed women should be made responsible for ensuring they were not raped, instead of teaching men not to rape.

By the publication date of the article almost 5,000 people had signed a Change.org petition urging Amazon to pull the “rape books” from the site, which were described as a “thinly veiled” guide to getting away with sexual assault.

Reference:

Roosh V: Amazon hit by petition to stop selling books from 'pick-up' blogger who called for rape to

In July 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon Com's SEC Filing SD form filed in May 2019.

It said "We are committed to avoiding the use of minerals that have fueled conflict, and we expect our suppliers to support our efforts to identify the origin of gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum used in products that we manufacture or contract to manufacture."

The document stated that the company had reflected its policy in its Supplier Code of Conduct "which we communicate to our suppliers through our supplier screening process, contracts with suppliers, or by sending our suppliers a copy of the Supplier Code."

It also stated "we request information from our in-scope product suppliers through the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template prepared by the Responsible Minerals Initiative."

There was a list of smelters and refiners however it did not include the conflict free status.

While Amazon had submitted its filing to the SEC it did not appear to belong to a initiative which was aimed at addressing the issue of conflict minerals. As a result it received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its conflict minerals policy.

Reference:

Form SD (May 2019)

In July 2019, Ethical Consumer viewed an article on The Guardian website dated to the 15th July 2019 and titled: 'Prime Day: activists protest against Amazon in cities across US'.

The article stated: "Activists, immigrants and Amazon employees demonstrated against the e-commerce giant on its annual Prime Day, protesting against its labor practices and its involvement with US authorities’ deportation efforts.

"Activists say Amazon should not be profiting off the yearly sale event while its workers struggle for better work conditions and its technology is being used to deport immigrants.

"Protesters delivered to Jeff Bezos’s home in Manhattan on Monday 250,000 petitions calling on Amazon to cut ties with government agencies responsible for deportation... Amazon Web Services hosts Department of Homeland Security databases that allow the department and its agencies to track and apprehend immigrants. The company is also in talks to expand a partnership to host new DHS biometric databases that store more extensive data, including eye color, tattoos and other identifiers.

"In addition to the immigration-related protests against Amazon, warehouse workers plan to walk out of the company’s fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, for six hours on Monday to demand better working conditions."

A further Google search found that in June, workers at the company also sent Jeff Bezos a letter asking him to stop selling the company’s Rekognition facial recognition software to law enforcement. The group, going under the strap-line ‘We Won’t Build It’, highlighted the US Authorities’ zero-tolerance approach at its boarders, which has resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents.

Prime Day protests in seven US cities also highlighted the company’s poor treatment of workers. Those on strike in Minnesota criticised the company for unrealistic productivity quotas, safety concerns, and the job insecurity for temporary workers, according to an article published by Forbes titled 'Amazon Prime Day Protests By Workers Demonstrate Continued Tension Inside The E-Commerce Goliath' and dated to 9 July 2019.

GMB Union members in Doncaster similarly protested on Prime Day against “unsafe” and “appalling” working conditions at the company’s warehouse, an article on The Guardian website titled 'Union stages final protest over 'horrific' Amazon work practices' and dated to 22 July 2019.

The company lost half a mark under Human Rights and Workers' Rights.

Reference:

Prime Day: activists protest against Amazon in cities across US (15 July 2019)

Amazon was one of the brands ranked in The Fashion Transparency Index 2019, which reviews and ranks 200 of the biggest global fashion and apparel brands and retailers according to how much information they disclose about their suppliers, supply chain policies and practices, and social and environmental impact.

Fashion Revolution is a global movement calling for a fairer, safer, cleaner and more transparent clothing industry, born after the fire of the Rana Plaza building in 2013 in Bangladesh in which 1138 people died and 2500 were injured.
Since then, Fashion Revolution wants to unite people and organisations to work together to change the way clothes are sourced, produced and consumed across the whole value chain, from farmer to consumer.
The companies were selected on the basis of annual turnover over 500 million US$ including high street, luxury, premium, sportswear, accessories, footwear and denim from across Europe, North America, South America and Asia.
Out of the 200 brands selected in 2019, 52% did not respond to the survey, 46% completed and returned the questionnaire and 2% declined the opportunity to complete the questionnaire.
The results showed that 10 brands (5%) score 0%, the average score was 53 out of 250 (21%), only 5 brands scored higher than 60%. Not a single brand scored above 70%.

The Fashion Revolution Transparency Index 2019 looked at 5 key areas: policy and commitments, governance, traceability, know / show and fix, and spotlight issues.

Amazon scored 14% and lost half a mark under Human Rights.

Reference:

Fashion Transparency Index 2019 (15 July 2019)

In January 2016 Amazon was fined by the US Department of Labour for failing to report injuries in one of its warehouses.

A citation issued by the federal safety regulators says the online retailer failed to report at least 26 work-related illnesses and injuries at a New Jersey warehouse in 2015.

The fine came after a multi-month inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Amazon did not report workplace injuries and did not supply protective equipment to workers, who were exposed to dangers including amputation.

The company was fined $7,000.

A spokesperson for Amazon, told US news network CBS, "We take safety very seriously, we do not agree with the findings and will be contesting the citation".

OSHA said Amazon workers were exposed to "risk factors including stress from repeated bending at the waist and repeated exertions, and standing during entire shifts up to 10 hours, four days a week and sometimes including mandatory overtime shifts. Also, the on-site medical unit provided medical care beyond what was allowed by their licensing and certification, without the supervision of a board certified qualified medical professional licensed to practice independently."

Reference:

osha-slaps-amazon-for-not-reporting-job-injuries/ (13 January 2016)

In July 2018 The Guardian reported, "workers left to suffer after warehouse injuries".
It stated that, "Guardian investigation reveals numerous cases of Amazon workers being treated in ways that leave them homeless, unable to work or bereft of income after workplace accidents".
"Amazon’s warehouses were listed on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s “dirty dozen” list of most dangerous places to work in the United States in April 2018."
"In many cases, Amazon workers are left to deal with the temp agency that hired them, shifting the burden of responsibility to a third party and making it more difficult for workers to receive proper treatment and compensation. "
Another Guardian article in May 2018, at www.theguardian.com/business/2018/may/31/amazon-accused-of-treating-uk-…, stated that, "During the past three years at one Amazon site, ambulances were called 115 times. A similar-sized supermarket warehouse nearby had only eight call-outs".
A GMB Union national officer said, "Hundreds of ambulance call-outs, pregnant women telling us they are forced to stand for 10 hours a day, pick, stow, stretch and bend, pull heavy carts and walk miles – even miscarriages and pregnancy issues at work."
The company lost a half mark under Worker's Rights.

Reference:

Amazon injuries (July 2018)

In July 2018 the Observer reported that:
"Amazon’s European workforce is fed up, so it’s taking action during the site’s biggest week of the year....

Each nation has a particular grievance against Jeff Bezos’ behemoth.

Polish workers say an anti-strike law has made it impossible to negotiate better salaries.
German employees have been fighting for a collective bargaining agreement for two years.
In Italy, Amazon routinely hires contract workers who aren’t required to have benefits.
Amazon’s Spanish leaders unilaterally imposed working conditions when a previous collective bargaining agreement expired.
England and France have imposed demanding measures on time and efficiency, meaning workers have to process 300 items an hour and pee in bottles. Workers were also penalized for taking sick days and time off during pregnancies."
The company lost a mark under Worker's Rights.

Reference:

Amazon boycott (22 August 2018)