Employees at Amazon, especially the warehouse Amazon Workers Strike is ready to carry out the largest series of strikes and protests in multiple countries around the world. The strikes are taking place amidst Black Friday, the biggest Amazon Sales event of the year. The agenda for these protests is to call on Amazon’s workers abuse by demanding for improved work safety conditions and Amazon workers salary. Amazon workers are not gearing up alone; they are being backed by Environmental and Social Justice Activists who are eager to join the protests. The campaign is using the hashtag of #MakeAmazonPay to promote the cause. Amazon is notoriously famous for underpaying its employees and its hostile work environment in warehouses. It has created a wedge between the company and workers. A wedge that was further escalated when company documents were leaked that revealed how Amazon is spying on its employees.
Amazon Workers Strike History
Amazon workers strike is not happening for the first time, but it is the largest in scale this Black Friday. Over the last several years, Amazon workers have taken similar actions on major sale events like this one. The most recent ones have been staged by workers in Germany who raised their concerns over Amazon Workers COVID-19 infections during the summer and then again on Prime Day that took place in October. Prime Day protest was to improve work safety and pay.
Amazon workers union is one of the most active ones. Considering the gigantic scale of Amazon, it makes sense. All the countries have their individual unions that are coming together on this Black Friday. The Friday protest actions are going to take place in multiple warehouses expanding to the ultimate Amazon supply chain. The countries participating will include the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Brazil, India, Italy, Poland, Luxembourg, Philippines, Germany, Bangladesh, France, Spain, and Belgium.
Demands by Protestors
Now that we know who is taking part in these strikes and protests, let’s take a look at the demands by protestors. Three major points from what we know so far are summarized below:
Amazon Workers Compensation
Amazon workers complain about the hazardous work environment in the warehouses, especially during the peak seasons like Black Friday. The highest workplace injuries are reported at this time. Thus, Amazon workers require that the compensation policy be improved.
Amazon Workers Condition
Just as they want the compensation to be better, Amazon workers want the working conditions to be better altogether. Even after tremendous claims by Amazon on the provision of best safety protocols at warehouses, workers are not satisfied with the environments. They demand that warehouses’ environment must be improved further to protect employees that have to handle dangerous equipment.
Amazon Workers Pay
The third most common demand by Amazon workers is the increase in pay. The employees, whether they are from warehouses or customer service department, are not satisfied by the salary. It is a recurring concern by employees in almost every protest targeted towards Amazon.
The activists have also raised the demand that Amazon respect their rights as workers and stop meddling with the union activities. In addition to these points, protesters also demand that the online retailer stop tax dodging and maintain environmental standards.
The increase in wages is subject to raise in all the Amazon warehouses that include hazard pay in the duration of the pandemic and a premium day in the peak periods. Another major demand is to re-instate all those workers who were fired upon raising concerns regarding the health and safety measures of Amazon. The unions want to have transparent communication with employees at all times, and that Amazon commits to zero-emission by the year 2030. In regards to the news of employees being monitored, Amazon must end the selling of any spying devices that depend strictly on mass surveillance. Lastly, the company is also held liable for tax circumventing; thus, it is demanded by social injustice organizations that Amazon pay its taxes in all places of its economic activity.
The Role of Social Justice Organizations
The upcoming series of organized protests are not only being orchestrated by worker unions alone. There are a number of social justice organizations that are partnering up with the unions to carry out the Amazon workers strikes successfully. To name a few, we have Greenpeace, Oxfam, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, Our Revolution, Sunrise Movement, UNI Global Union, the Athena Coalition, Tax Justice Network, Progressive International, and Public Citizen. In total, there are more than 50 of these organizations on either side of the Atlantic.
Just like many times before, Amazon’s response to all these objections is a cold denial. An Amazon Spokesperson named Conor Sweeney from Amazon Luxembourg said in response to the workers’ strikes, “The claims are a series of misleading assertions by the self-interested parties and misinformed groups. Amazon has a great track record of providing continuous support to everyone from workers, customers to the entire community by providing work environments that are safe. We also have a minimum wage of $15 with sufficient benefits.” Regarding the environmental concerns, Sweeney emphasized company plans for net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2040 that has been made public news for a good time. Similarly, he talked about how Amazon has paid $5 billion in taxes globally to this point.
Amazon’s Employee Surveillance
On top of all the allegations like bad work environment, low wages, pollution, and tax circumventing, Amazon is also proven to be spying on its employees like members of worker unions. Amazon has really become the most controversial monopoly with all these claims surrounding it. Some dozens of documents were leaked to the Global Security Operations Center. The leaks revealed that Amazon had partnered up with Pinkerton operatives in order to spy on the warehouse workers and monitoring the labor union groups, social movements and environmental groups like Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future and Greenpeace. Most of the spy work occurs during Black Friday and Christmas time. For those who know, the Pinkerton agency is renowned for its union-busting in the United States of America. Therefore, it has given all the more reason for Amazon workers to be angry at the retail giant.