Amazon workers and activists in 30 countries marked the traditional start of the holiday shopping season with a series of strikes and protests to demand better wages and working conditions.
In Manhattan, activists, unions and Amazon workers demonstrated in front of the penthouse of company founder Jeff Bezos in the chic Flatiron district.
Outside of St. Louis, a few dozen workers exited the massive STL8 facility on Friday afternoon. It’s the second wildcat strike at the 900,000-square-foot fulfillment center, where workers also demonstrated in September to protest wages and working conditions. Workers at the site are demanding a $10 an hour raise, and they say improving working conditions is causing too many workers to get injured on the job.
The groups involved in the campaign promote it on Twitter using the hashtag #MakeAmazonPay. You have a wide range of requirements. Many are calling for higher wages, an end to worker surveillance and a pace of work that results in above-average rates of work-related accidents.
Work measures are also planned at Whole Foods stores owned by Amazon and other locations in Bessemer, Alabama; Columbia, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Durham, NC; Garner, North Carolina; Joliet, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, DC
In Germany, workers demonstrated at nine out of 20 Amazon warehouses in the country, the company told Reuters, although the “vast majority” of employees reported working as usual.
In Coventry, England, workers demonstrated in front of an Amazon plant in the evening and said: “We are not robots.”
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, some activists demonstrated in front of the National Congress building, holding signs reading “Make Amazon Pay”.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on the actions.
“On Black Friday, already #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 aimed at crushing worker-led union efforts be made. ‘ said Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union, a group leading the protests, in a statement. “It’s time for the tech giant to stop its horrific, unsafe practices immediately, respect the law, and negotiate with workers who want to improve their jobs.”
Among the countries where Amazon faces strikes and protests, according to UNI: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia , South Africa, Turkey and Great Britain
Monika di Silvestre, an employee of Ver.di, a German consortium involved in organizing the #MakeAmazonPay campaign, told Bloomberg that workers are particularly concerned about Amazon using computers to monitor their productivity.
“Workers are under a lot of pressure with these algorithms,” she said. “It does not differentiate between workers whether they are old or have limited mobility. Workers stay up at night just thinking about their productivity stats.”
Almost half of all injuries recorded in US camps in 2021 appeared on Amazonaccording to the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of unions.
“Amazon employed a third of all warehouse workers in the US, but was responsible for almost half (49%) of all injuries in the warehouse industry,” according to the SOC report.
Amazon has previously defended its safety record, denying that injury rates are higher at the company’s warehouses.
The company is facing increasing pressure from workers to unionize in the US. Earlier this year, a warehouse on Staten Island in New York City became the first Amazon fulfillment center to organize, and other entities have also applied for collective bargaining rights. Most recently a worker in an Amazon warehouse in upstate New York voted against forming a union.
A federal judge last week ordered Amazon to stop retaliating against employees who engage in workplace activism. The ruling comes in a court case brought by the National Labor Relations Board, which sued Amazon in March, demanding the reinstatement of a fired employee who helped organize the company’s Staten Island warehouse.
– Irina Ivanova of CBS News and Associated Press contributed to this report.