Amazon CEO says job cuts to exceed 18,000 roles

by Jacob Fuller

 

Amazon.com Inc’s layoffs will now increase to more than 18,000 roles as part of a workforce reduction it previously disclosed, Chief Executive Andy Jassy said in a public staff note on Wednesday.

The layoff decisions, which Amazon will communicate starting Jan. 18, will largely impact the company’s e-commerce and human resources organizations, he said.

The cuts amount to 6% of Amazon‘s roughly 300,000-person corporate workforce and represent a swift turn for a retailer that recently doubled its base pay ceiling to compete more aggressively for talent.

Amazon has more than 1.5 million workers including warehouse staff, making it America’s second-largest private employer after Walmart Inc.

Its stock was up 1.8% at $86.71 in premarket trading on Thursday.

A spokesperson for London-based trade union GMB said it was aware of the job cuts, but that its members will not be affected by the plans.

Members belonging to the union who work at the Amazon warehouse in Coventry, central England, are planning to stage a walkout on Jan. 25 over a pay row with the e-commerce giant.

Laurent Degoussee of the SUD union in France also said the plans would not affect the company’s Amazon Logistique France unit.

Douglas Harper, a spokesperson for Spain’s largest trade union CCOO, criticized what he said was a total lack of information from the company.

“We don’t know how this will affect us in Spain,” Harper told Reuters. “We can assume that this is the first step preceding layoffs in the rest of operations, not just the corporate workforce, but we don’t have any official data.”

Jassy said in the note that annual planning “has been more difficult given the uncertain economy and that we’ve hired rapidly over the last several years”.

Amazon has braced for likely slower growth as soaring inflation encouraged businesses and consumers to cut back spending, and its share price has halved in the past year.

The company began letting staff go in November from its devices division, with a source telling Reuters at the time it was targeting around 10,000 cuts.

The tech industry shed more than 150,000 workers in 2022, according to tracking site Layoffs.fyi, a number that’s continuing to grow.

Salesforce Inc said Wednesday it planned to eliminate about 10% of staff, which numbered nearly 8,000 as of Oct. 31.

The reversal of Amazon‘s fortunes has been stark. It changed from a business deemed essential during the pandemic for delivering goods to locked-down homes, to a company that overbuilt for demand.

Its layoffs now surpass the 11,000 cuts announced last year by Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc.

Jassy’s note followed a report in the Wall Street Journal that the reduction would be more than 17,000 jobs. He said Amazon chose to disclose the news before informing affected staff because of a leak.

Amazon still must file certain legal notices about mass layoffs, and it plans to pay severance.

Jassy said: “Amazon has weathered uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and we will continue to do so.”

Copyright 2023 Thomson/Reuters

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