Jeff Bezos criticised by Amazon workers and customers after thanking them for funding space launch

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Amazon employees have called out founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos for celebrating his tour of space, which he said was thanks to their hard work.

After returning to earth on Tuesday following the successful launch of his Blue Origin spacecraft, Mr Bezos thanked “every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all this”.

It is though that the cost of Blue Origin was in the region of$28 million (£25 million), and paid for by Mr Bezos selling off billions of dollars of Amazon shares. On Tuesday he became the wealthiest man to enter space.

The tribute to Amazon’s workers apparently fell on deaf ears, with Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accusing the Amazon founder of exploiting staff to pay for his sub-orbital space flight.

“Yes, Amazon workers did pay for this – with lower wages, union busting, a frenzied and inhumane workplace, and delivery drivers not having health insurance during a pandemic,” she wrote in a tweet.

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“And Amazon customers are paying for it with Amazon abusing their market power to hurt small business.”

That was echoed by Amazon workers on Twitter, where Mr Bezos was widely ridiculed for flying to the edge of space – just days after Virgin’s Richard Branson became the first to do so.

“Pissing in a bottle so that my boss can fly in a d**k-shaped rocket,” wrote one Twitter user, who was among dozens mocking the shape of the Blue Origin spacecraft.

Another wrote: “My first tweet as an Amazon employee – I’m so angry that my boss thinks going into space is more important than the people who got him there. Jeff Bezos lives on another planet and his greed is literally out of this world.”

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“I honesty believe if my boss had the money he'd stroke his own ego just like Jeff Bezos did today,” a Twitter user not employed by Amazon joked. “And sadly yes, my boss would make his spaceship look like a giant penis too.”

Mr Bezos told shareholders last year that Amazon employees were incorrectly portrayed as “desperate souls” and “robots” by news reports, which alleged “Amazonians” were without adequate protection from Covid.

Amazon has also refuted reports about staff being denied breaks and unfairly disciplined, as well as being at risk of injury while working. Others have criticised the retailer for using an app to manage its relations with workers.

The Independent has approached Amazon for comment.

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