Amazon warehouse workers stage global Black Friday strike across 40 countries including US and Germany over pay and working conditions
- Global strike action was called for by the campaign ‘Make Amazon Pay’ who have titled protests on the busiest shopping day of the year ‘Make Amazon Pay Day’
- There is industrial action planned in 40 countries across the globe and today in America in areas including Alabama, New York and Garner
- Also today, Amazon workers and activists will rally in front of a residence owned by billionaire company owner Jeff Bezos in New York City
- Protests come after Amazon was criticized for tough working conditions – including grueling hours and timed toilet breaks
The global strike action on one of the biggest shopping days of the year was called for by campaign group Make Amazon Pay. It has titled the protests ‘Make Amazon Pay Day’.
The initiative, promoted by groups on Twitter under #MakeAmazonPay listed the industrial action planned in the 40 countries across the globe.
Employees at a company workhouse in St Peters, Missouri, will today stop work as part of the protests and Whole Foods stores owned by Amazon will also take labor actions. Strike action will also take place in Bessemer, Alabama; Columbia, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Durham, North Carolina; Garner ; Joliet, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, D.C.
NEW DELHI: Gig Amazon Warehouse staged a strike against pay and conditions today as part of the global action
Also today, Amazon workers and activists will rally in front of a residence owned by billionaire company owner Jeff Bezos in New York City.
In a statement, Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union, leading the protests, said: ‘On Black Friday, in what has already been named #MakeAmazonPay day, unions, civil society and progressive elected officials will stand shoulder to shoulder in a massive global day of action to denounce Amazon’s despicable multimillion dollar campaigns to kill worker-lead union efforts.
‘It’s time for the tech giant to cease their awful, unsafe practices immediately, respect the law and negotiate with the workers who want to make their jobs better.’
NEW DELHI: A woman dressed as Jeff Bezos, Executive Chairman of Amazon, and other Gig Workers Association (GigWA) and Amazon Warehouse workers participate in a protest in New Delhi today
NEW DELHI: A member of Hawkers Joint Action Committee hangs up a poster during a protest by Gig Workers Association (GigWA) in association with Amazon Warehouse workers in New Delhi today
NEW DELHI: A member of Hawkers Joint Action Committee participates in a protest by Gig Workers Association (GigWA) in association with Amazon Warehouse workers in New Delhi today
FRANCE: French CGT union members demonstrate in front of the Amazon logistics center near Paris today, pictured
FRANCE: A protest over conditions and pay at an Amazon warehouse near Paris today, pictured
FRANCE: French CGT union members demonstrate in front of the Amazon logistics center in Bretigny-sur-Orge, near Paris, as part of a global day of actions against Amazon, pictured
FRANCE: French CGT union members demonstrate in front of the Amazon logistics center in Bretigny-sur-Orge, near Paris, pictured
Amazon has come under fire over tough working conditions in the past- including grueling hours and timed toilet breaks.
The company has also been criticized for its injury record. In 2021, nearly half of injuries at US warehouses occurred at Amazon, according to the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of unions.
The report released said: ‘Amazon employed one-third of all warehouse workers in the U.S., but it was responsible for nearly one-half (49%) of all injuries in the warehouse industry.’
In the past, Amazon has defended its safety record and denied the claims over injury rates at warehouses.
FRANCE: French CGT union members demonstrate in front of the Amazon logistics center in Bretigny-sur-Orge, near Paris today
FRANCE: Pictured: Workers stage a protest against Amazon in front of a logistics center near Paris
The working conditions have led to some fed-up Amazon employees wanting to unionize. Workers in a warehouse in Staten Island in New York City were the first to take the step.
Other warehouses have also filed for collective bargaining rights. Last week, a federal judge ordered Amazon to stop action against employees participating in workplace action.
The judge ruling came in a court case brought by the National Labor Relations Board. It had sued Amazon in March and called for an employee to be reinstated after being fired for organizing the union in Staten Island.
Other countries affected by strikes and protests include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, South Africa and Turkey.
FRANCE: A Make Amazon Pay banner is seen during one of the strikes in France today
FRANCE: CGT union members in France wield flags as they stage a protest against Amazon near Paris, pictured
FRANCE: Union members hold CGT flags as they protest outside Amazon near Paris today
FRANCE: A worker stands in front of a banner as Amazon employees stage a strike in France today
In Germany, work stoppages were planned at 10 fulfilment centers, according to the Verdi union.
The union demanded Amazon recognize collective bargaining agreements for the retail and mail order trade sector and called for a further collective agreement on good and healthy work.
Monika di Silvestre, Verdi’s representative for Amazon workers, said: ‘This is the first time that Amazon has had an international strike day.
‘This is very important, because a major global corporation like Amazon cannot be confronted locally, regionally or nationally alone,’ she added.
A spokesperson for Amazon said: ‘These groups represent a variety of interests, and while we are not perfect in any area, if you objectively look at what Amazon is doing on these important matters you’ll see that we do take our role and our impact very seriously.
‘We are inventing and investing significantly in all these areas, playing a significant role in addressing climate change with the Climate Pledge commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040, continuing to offer competitive wages and great benefits, and inventing new ways to keep our employees safe and healthy in our operations network, to name just a few. Anyone can see for themselves by taking a tour at one of our sites.’
IRELAND: People attend a protest outside Amazon’s European Headquarters in Dublin as part of the ‘Make Amazon Pay’ campaign today
IRELAND: A woman writes ‘Pay your taxes, pay your workers’ at a protest in Dublin as part of the ‘Make Amazon Pay’ campaign today
IRELAND: People hold flags and banners outside Amazon’s European Headquarters as they protest today
IRELAND: Protesters outside Amazon’s European Headquarters in Dublin to support the ‘Make Amazon Pay’ campaign
IRELAND: A woman holds a poster saying ‘pay workers’ and ‘pay for climate’ as she participates in a protest on the Make Amazon Pay day, organized to coincide with Black Friday
The strike action comes after it was revealed in June that Amazon could run out of new people to hire by 2024, with the company burning through its entire warehouse workforce annually due to grueling shifts, a leaked internal document showed.
The document, first reported by Recode, included the words: ‘If we continue business as usual, Amazon will deplete the available labor supply in the US network by 2024.’
The document was published internally in 2021. According to Recode, an Amazon spokesperson did not refute its authenticity.
The areas where employees are expected to be most scarce include the Inland Empire, California, an hour and a half east of Los Angeles. The region is around two hour drive from 20 million potential Amazon customers.
The document said Amazon could run out of new workers in the Inland Empire by the end of 2021 or in 2022, although warehouses in Inland Empire continue to operate, and it’s unclear what, if any, staffing issues they currently face.
Mesa in Arizona could also run out of staff, as statistics showed Amazon loses more workers than it hires every year.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy (above) said employee safety is the company’s top priority
In 2020, for every 100 Amazon workers, six were injured, according to the Washington Post.
Wilmington, Delaware and Memphis, Tennessee were also at risk of running out of staff, the report showed.
According to Amazon’s own data, the company had an attritional rate of 123 percent last year.
That means that over the course of the year, the number of workers who left the firm was equivalent to the entire number working there at the start of the year – with an additional 23 percent on top.
Many workers at Amazon do stay longer, particularly those in more senior roles. But others come and go within the course of a year, inflating the attrition figure.
Amazon employs around one million people in the US, including head office workers, making it the second biggest private employer, behind the 2.3 million-strong Walmart ‘family.’
Its attrition rate is far above the national average for the most common jobs at Amazon, in warehouse work and transportation.
The national average for warehouse and transportation attrition was 46 percent in 2019 and 59 percent in 2020.
While for retail work, the average in 2019 was 58 percent and in 2020 it was 70 percent.
In 2020, for every 100 Amazon workers, six were injured, according to the Washington Post.
In September, the company’s CEO Andy Jassy said in an interview on CNBC: ‘For us, employee safety is priority number one for us in our fulfillment centers.’
Jassy assumed the role of CEO from founder Jeff Bezos in July 2021.
In the years before Covid-19, Amazon lost workers at a rate of 3 percent per week coupled with a 150 percent turnover annually, reports the New York Times.
Among the many reasons for the potential shortfall of workers is Amazon’s controversial employment practices and worker health and safety
Jose Pagan, pictured here, said he was fired electronically after taking two days off to deal with an infected tooth
One anecdote relayed in the Recode article mentions an Amazon supervisor from The Bronx in New York.
Jose Pagan, 35, who supported his wife and children on his Amazon salary, said he was fired electronically after missing work to treat an infected tooth.
Pagan said he did not have enough notice to use vacation days and didn’t have enough unpaid time off left, which is what led to his termination.
He went on to say that even though he had a doctor’s note, the company didn’t care.
Pagan worked for a full week following his health issues and found out he was fired when he showed up for work one night and discovered his keycard didn’t work.
He was then told he no longer worked at the company.
Pagan went to a HR representative who told him the company would welcome him back in 90 days and in the meantime, he should try and get some work as a driver with Uber or Grubhub.
At the time of his firing Pagan was on the verge of being promoted.
One former manager said: ‘It was almost impossible to get fired as a worker’
Jassy, said in an internal memo to employees in April 2022 there is no ‘silver bullet’ to make Amazon facilities magically safer
Despite multiple reports of casual firings, one former manager at Amazon’s Phoenix plant, told Recode, the culture is now more geared toward keeping workers due to the high attrition rates.
Michael Garrigan said: ‘They were so concerned about attrition and losing people that they rolled back all the policies that us as managers had to enforce.’
Garrigan said that managers joked about not bothering to write up workers with citations because HR would ‘exempt it.’
He said: ‘It was almost impossible to get fired as a worker.’
Jassy, said in an internal memo to employees in April 2022 there is no ‘silver bullet’ to make Amazon facilities magically safer, reports CBS News.
Jassy said in part: ‘We don’t seek to be average. We want to be best in class. We still have a ways to go.’
While in December 2021, six Amazon employees were killed in Edwardsville, Illinois, when a tornado struck the facility.
Workers who survived the tornado later filed a lawsuit against the construction company which built the facility. In it, the plaintiffs said there was no proper sheltering available inside, reported KMOV in May 2022.
Following the tornado, Amazon denied claims from employees at the Edwardsville center that the company had banned them from using their cell phones at work, reports Business Insider.
According to the activist group, More Perfect Union, two workers died at the company’s Bessemer, Alabama, facility within 24 hours of each other.
The group said one of the deceased men had his request to go home denied by HR. Hours later he suffered a fatal stroke on the job.
The group alleges that a total of six people died at the Bessemer facility in 2021 and that Amazon has covered up the deaths.
Amazon denies these allegations.
In April 2022, Amazon was accused of illegally attempting to influence a defeated vote to unionize in the Bessemer facility, reports CNBC.