Amid the busiest shopping month, Black Friday, Amazon workers have taken to the picket line as employees protested the U.S. e-commerce giant’s labour practices.
Multiple reports estimate that over 1,000 workers at the Coventry warehouse have walked out today. It’s part of international industrial action, with strikes set to happen across Europe and the USA.
The “Make Amazon Pay” campaign, orchestrated by the UNI Global Union, orchestrated strikes and protests across more than 30 countries from Black Friday to Monday, the period following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday known for retailers offering substantial discounts.
Traditionally associated with in-person shopping at large retail outlets in the U.S., Black Friday has increasingly transitioned to online platforms, with global implications, driven in part by Amazon. The company, which advertised holiday discounts from November 17 to November 27 this year, has played a pivotal role in this shift.
What you should know
In Germany, Amazon’s second-largest market by sales in the previous year, trade union Verdi estimated that approximately 2,000 workers participated in strikes across six fulfilment centres.
Notably, 500 workers in Rheinberg (nearly 40% of the workforce) and 250 workers in Leipzig (about 20%) were reported to be on strike.
In response, an Amazon spokesperson in Germany disputed these figures, stating that only a small number of workers were on strike.
The spokesperson emphasized that workers receive fair wages, with a starting salary exceeding €14 ($15.27) per hour, and assured the timely and reliable delivery of Black Friday orders.
In England, over 200 workers at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse participated in a strike, extending a long-running dispute over pay. Workers, including Nick Henderson, called for higher pay and improved working conditions.
The striking employees vocalized their demand for a pay increase to £15 pounds ($18.69) per hour.
In the UK, an Amazon spokesperson countered, stating that the minimum starting pay ranged from £11.80 to £13 per hour, depending on the location Reuters reported. Additionally, the spokesperson mentioned an upcoming increase to £12.30 to £13 per hour from April 2024 and reassured that the strike would not disrupt operations.
In Italy, trade union CGIL reported that over 60% of workers at the Amazon warehouse in Castel San Giovanni were on strike.
However, Amazon countered, claiming that more than 86% of its workers reported to work, with no impact on operations.
In Spain, the CCOO union called for Amazon warehouse and delivery workers to stage a one-hour strike on each shift during “Cyber Monday” the following week.
In France, Amazon’s parcel lockers, commonly used by customers to receive orders, were adorned with posters and barricade tape, according to anti-globalization organization Attac, which spearheaded the protest. Attac, referring to Black Friday as a “celebration of overproduction and overconsumption,” targeted 40 lockers across the country. Amazon assured the accessibility of all its lockers in France.
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