Online retailer Amazon has severed all ties with German security firm HESS following allegations that the protection company has neo-Nazi links and that some of its black-clad, shaven headed employees were intimidating the website’s seasonal workers.
A documentary on German TV channel ARD alleged that HESS guards were mistreating Amazon’s foreign temporary employees at their hostels.
The programme showed photo evidence that workers’ rooms were regularly searched and staff members said they were frisked to check they had not stolen bread rolls from breakfast.
Some of the guards shown in the programme wore clothing made by Thor Steinar, a label so strongly associated with the far-right in Germany that it is banned in the Bundestag, as well as in many football stadiums.
Amazon has now ended the contract with HESS “with immediate effect” and said in a statement: “Amazon has zero tolerance for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same from every company we work with.”
Hensel European Security Services, also known as HESS, shares a name with Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, but has strongly denied links with the far-right. In a statement, the company said that many of its employees were immigrants and that “we employ Christians, Muslims and Buddhists”.
Following the documentary, which aired last week, HESS said it had banned its staff from wearing Thor Steinar clothes. Although the company admitted that searches may have been carried out, it insisted that they were not illegal.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has demanded an explanation from Amazon over the allegations made in the documentary, while Employment Minister Ursula von der Leyen has said the companies accused were at risk of losing their licences to find temporary workers and provide site security.