Jeff Bezos is antisocial

Why Jeff Bezos is raising wages for his employees

The entrepreneur is also a political head. The timing of his latest move is perfect.

Opinion Walter Niederberger

With a wage increase for 350,000 employees, Jeff Bezos paved the way for higher minimum wages nationwide this week and made a permanent Democratic cause his own. The timing of the Amazon boss is perfect. Amazon and its big competitors like Costco and Walmart are expecting strong Christmas sales and are currently hiring seasonal workers. This year the recruitment battle is particularly fierce as the job market has dried up.

For the first time in decades, workers can make wage claims. And Jeff Bezos reacts: From November 1, he will pay the 250,000 permanent employees in the USA and Great Britain as well as the 100,000 seasonal workers a minimum wage of 15 dollars an hour, four dollars more than Walmart. For workers, this equates to an improvement of around two dollars an hour. The national average minimum annual wage is likely to rise from around $ 28,500 to $ 33,000. No Amazon employee can feed a family with this, which is why most of them are still dependent on social allowances.

Bezos is not a benefactor, but he is making a start that others have to follow for better or worse. In Seattle, the headquarters of Amazon, a minimum wage of $ 15 is already law, which is why Bezos felt the pressure within the group to have all employees equal. He made no friends this summer either, when he toppled the city government's attempt to alleviate the housing shortage and the lot of the homeless, which Amazon helped to cause, with a surcharge on the sales tax.

Meanwhile, the company was increasingly discredited in Washington. Bernie Sanders, who is aiming for another presidential candidacy in 2020, deposited a “stop Bezos law” in the Senate and attacked Bezos as a greedy, anti-social corporate boss. In the right-wing camp, too, criticism of the harsh working conditions in the Amazon shipping centers grew, while President Trump openly threatened sanctions without ever specifying them.

In short: Amazon has an image problem and, like Facebook, threatened to fall out of favor across the board. At least this risk seems to have been averted for now. Senator Sanders issued Bezos a valuable political insurance policy immediately after the wage increase was announced. The campaign is not only important for the Amazon employees, says Sanders, but "is a shot that will be heard around the world".

What is meant is the USA, where the Democrats are constantly fighting for higher statutory minimum wages, but have no chance in the current political constellation. With Bezos they now know an ally on their side, in which the conservative "Wall Street Journal" already suspects a "conspiracy between big business and big government". That is not entirely wrong, but it is also not unusual. In the end, Bezos is only copying the recipe with which Big Oil and Big Pharma had earlier made political friends.

This article was automatically imported from our old editorial system to our new website. If you come across display errors, we ask for your understanding and a hint: [email protected]