Web store and technology company Amazon will face strikes and protests by thousands of employees during the Black Friday deal festival in about forty countries. In countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Australia, and South Africa, employees are demanding higher wages or better working conditions.
On Friday, an international coalition of trade unions is running a campaign called Make Amazon Pay. In many countries, employees regularly express dissatisfaction with wages and the high workload in distribution centers. In addition, in some countries, the company prohibits workers from joining unions. Other environmental and civil society organizations also joined the day of protest.
Black Friday, the day after the American Thanksgiving holiday, is known as the time when retailers do a lot of stunts with discounted products. This is why Discount Ball, which has also gained in importance outside of the United States in recent years, is one of the most important days of the year for Amazon. But in France and Germany, unions CGT and Verdi are staging strikes at eighteen major distribution centers to thwart deliveries of products ordered online.
Solidarity action for Amazon promotions takes place on Dam Square in the center of Amsterdam. A protest is planned in Brussels against the “abuse of tax rules, the planet and employees being concerned,” says the campaign’s website.
In the UK, workers are protesting at distribution centres, including those in Coventry. “Amazon workers in Coventry are overworked, underpaid and have had enough,” said a campaign manager at the British trade union GMB. Employees who leave risk losing half of their £500 (€582) bonus. This may act as a no-holds-barred leverage to prevent strikes, says GMB.
In the heart of New York, a demonstration is planned in front of the apartment of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Fifth Avenue. In Bangladesh, employees of textile mills that supply Amazon are staging protest marches through the capital, Dhaka, and Chittagong.
Amazon said in its response that it is “not perfect,” but that it works hard on good working conditions and an environmental policy. The spokesperson points to the goal of no longer emitting any CO2 in balance before 2040. Amazon also offers “competitive salaries and other great benefits,” he says, and finds new ways to keep employees healthy and safe.
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