Thousands of Amazon warehouse employees in about 40 countries are planning demonstrations and walkouts to coincide with Black Friday, one of the busiest online shopping days of the year.
As the cost-of-living problem worsens, employees in the United States, United Kingdom, India, Japan, Australia, South Africa, and the rest of Europe are seeking better wages and working conditions through a campaign called “Make Amazon Pay.” With the assistance of environmental and civil society organizations, an international coalition of labor unions is coordinating the campaign.
Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union and one of the campaign’s organizers, stated, “It’s time for the internet giant to immediately stop their horrible, harmful practices, follow the law, and talk with the workers who want to improve their jobs.”
The e-commerce behemoth has dealt with charges of unfair labor practices, employee activity, and union initiatives at some of its operations. Workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, voted earlier this year to join a new union, in what was considered a historic moment.
Amazon Will Face Black Friday Strikes in 20 Countries to demand workers a living wage, the right to join unions, pay its share of taxes & commit to meaningful environmental sustainability
You can join the protest
This Black Friday
Black Amazon#Boycotthttps://t.co/OPfPZzOCaZ pic.twitter.com/OzLLVGxZSb
— TU Left Forum (@TUnionLeftForum) November 19, 2021
If you look objectively at what Amazon is doing on these significant issues, you will see that we take our role and our effect seriously.” Amazon spokesman David Nieberg stated.
He mentioned the company’s goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, as well as the fact that it is “continuing to give competitive pay and excellent benefits, and innovating new ways to keep our employees safe and healthy.”
Unions in France and Germany
Unions in France and Germany, CGT, and Ver. di, are spearheading the newest collective action, with coordinated strikes at 18 major warehouses aimed at disrupting shipments throughout key European markets.
Monika di Silvestre, the chair of Ver.di’s Amazon committee in Germany stated that workers were particularly concerned about how closely their productivity was monitored by computers, with algorithms defining targets such as the number of parcels they must handle each hour.
“These algorithms place a great deal of stress on the workforce,” she said. “It makes no distinction between workers, regardless of whether they are elderly or have restricted mobility. The only thing that keeps workers awake at night is their productivity statistics.”
She urged European leaders to improve labor rights throughout the bloc. She stated, “We do not have the right to strike throughout Europe on a European level.”
In the United Kingdom, GMB-affiliated employees have planned demonstrations outside multiple warehouses, including one in Coventry.
“Amazon workers in Coventry are overworked and underpaid, and they’ve had enough,” said Amanda Gearing, a senior GMB organizer, adding that “hundreds” will gather to demand a rise in pay from £10.50 to £15.
Amazon Stated Last Month That Warehouse Workers in the United Kingdom
Amazon stated last month that warehouse workers in the United Kingdom will receive a £500 incentive, of which the second half would be forfeited if an employee quits during a shift. The final payout is contingent on there being “no unlawful absences” from November 22 to December 24. The GMB has stated that connecting compensation to attend could be construed as an illegal enticement not to strike.
In the United States, protests and marches will occur in more than ten locations including in front of the apartment building on New York’s 5th Avenue where Amazon founder Jeff Bezos resides. In Japan, members of a newly formed union will demonstrate in front of the company’s national offices in Tokyo. In India, multiple demonstrations are also scheduled. In Bangladesh, Amazon supply chain garment workers will march in Dhaka and Chittagong.
Some demonstrations will focus on Amazon’s environmental and social impact, such as in Dublin, Ireland, where protesters will congregate outside the company’s offices to oppose the construction of two new data centers. In South Africa, demonstrators will congregate near Amazon’s new Cape Town offices, which are being constructed on indigenous people’s holy territory.
Some unions have expressed concern over the present economic situation in light of Amazon’s warning that the holiday season may not be as busy as usual. The company’s plan to lay off 10,000 employees will also complicate salary talks.
Laurent Cretin, a Delegate for the CFE-GCC Union in France
Laurent Cretin, a delegate for the CFE-CGC union in France, stated that the company will have 880 workers in a warehouse in Chalon-sur-Saône during the Christmas season, compared to 1,000 before covid. He attributed this decrease to tightening consumer spending and the transfer of activity to robotized warehouses.
“The estimates are not optimistic; we are unsure if we will perform as well as last year’s post-covid spike,” he said.