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Amazon shareholders nix warehouse working conditions audit

AP – Amazon shareholders on Wednesday voted down a proposal calling for an independent audit of working conditions at the e-commerce behemoth’s warehouses.

The proposal’s defeat at the Seattle-based company’s annual shareholder meeting came despite calls from activist groups and unions to improve labour conditions at the warehouses where customer orders are sorted, packaged and shipped.

Amazon had recommended shareholders vote against the proposal and 14 others presented at the meeting, a record for the company. All the resolutions were voted down by a majority of shareholders, the company said, citing preliminary voting results. It did not release shareholder vote totals on Wednesday, but its expected to release them in regulatory filings.

Many of the resolutions focussed on workers’ rights and issues such as further disclosure of the company’s lobbying and taxes. The resolutions are non-binding, but usually pressure corporate boards to take action.

Shareholders also voted to approve compensation packages for six of Amazon’s top executives, including CEO Andy Jassy. Two investor advisory firms, Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services, had recommended shareholders vote against the pay packages, arguing they were excessive.

Jassy received a compensation package worth about USD213 million last year, with nearly all of money coming through Amazon shares to be vested over 10 years.

People stand in the lobby for Amazon offices in New York. PHOTO: AP