According to activists, Amazon employees and their supporters have rallied in dozens of countries to protest the retail giant’s labor policies.
From Germany and France to the United States, from India to Japan and the United Kingdom, Amazon workers laid down their tools or joined demonstrations on Friday to demand better working conditions and fair wages.
The promotions coincided with one of the busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday, when significant discounts boost sales, causing additional stress for retail and warehouse workers.
The Make Amazon Pay coalition that called the strikes said there had been industrial action and protests in more than 30 countries.
In Germany, there were demonstrations at nine of Amazon’s 20 warehouses in the country, although the company said on Friday morning that the vast majority of its employees in the country are working normally.
The Verdi union, which called for the strikes in Germany, called on the company to recognize collective agreements for retail and mail order.
It also called for another collective agreement on workers’ welfare, with a spokesman noting that warehouse workers can walk 15 to 20 kilometers (9.3 to 12.4 miles) a day at work.
Amazon workers in Leipzig are on strike with their union @_verdi to #MakeAmazonPay pic.twitter.com/tFM83YA2Sc
— Progressive International (@ProgIntl) November 24, 2022
A spokesman for Amazon in Germany said the company “offers excellent pay, benefits and development opportunities – all in an attractive work environment”.
The spokesman referred, among other things, to a wage increase for Germany’s Amazon logisticians from September, the starting wage is now 13 euros per hour or more, including bonus payments.
But given the highest inflation rate in decades of more than 10 percent in Germany, a Verdi spokesman in Koblenz described the latest wage increase as “a drop in the ocean”.
“You can’t live with the low salary you earn at this time,” says Bastian Zafi, an Amazon employee in Germany. “I have three children and we both work and we have a huge problem. Because the costs have increased so enormously that you cannot live with what you earn.”
In France, where union groups SUD and CGT have called strikes at the country’s eight warehouses, activists said 60 people demonstrated outside Amazon’s Bretigny-sur-Orge site near Paris on Friday morning, with another 50 staying at home. from a total of 5,000 full-time and temporary employees at this location.
Amazon France said there had been no sign of any disruption to operations so far.
SUD requested a Black Friday bonus of €1,000, double the payment offered by Amazon, and a €150 bonus per weekend worked in the fourth quarter.
In the US, workers at an Amazon facility in St. Peters, Missouri, quit their jobs, while unions representing retail workers in New York City held demonstrations outside the home of Amazon owner Jeff Bezos.
🚨🚨 HAPPENS NOW🚨🚨
Workers at the STL8 Amazon facility walk out on BLACK FRIDAY to demand higher wages, safer working conditions, respect and the right to form a union without retaliation. #MakeAmazonPay #AmazonHurts #UnionsForAll pic.twitter.com/nMBkruDVVy
— Missouri Workers Center (@moworkerscenter) November 25, 2022
Protesters are just outside Jeff Bezos’ Manhattan penthouse demanding that Amazon pay its taxes, pay its workers and pay for the damage it’s causing to the planet.
It is part of the global, coordinated #MakeAmazonPay Protests are taking place in over 30 countries today. pic.twitter.com/Prj1qTmQ6L
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) November 25, 2022
There was no immediate comment from Amazon US.
Protests and rallies also took place in several other countries and territories including Argentina, Ireland, South Africa, Palestine, Bangladesh and Australia.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the US Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said Amazon is denying workers their humanity.
“Amazon workers around the world, no matter what country they live and work in, experience the same dehumanizing abuse at the hands of Amazon. The working conditions for Amazon are so bad that there is a turnover rate of 150 percent per year,” he told Al Jazeera.
“The rising cost of living is only making it worse,” he said.
“Amazon’s business model is to treat people like robots. They are managed by an algorithm, they get fired via text messages on their phones, people are afraid to go to the bathroom because they could lose their job if they don’t meet their productivity targets.”
Let Amazon pay の全世界行動に合わせた Japan promotion！
言で立たざる得ないアマゾン社員たちは本当は私たちの仲間だ。#Amazon #MakeAmazonPay pic.twitter.com/0TgGQZ8pga
— 東京ユニオン (@toukyouyunion) November 25, 2022
Amazon, which employs more than 1.5 million workers worldwide, most of whom are hourly workers, has refused to recognize unions.
It previously defended its labor policy, saying the company offers “competitive pay” and “comprehensive benefits.”
The New York Times reported earlier this month that the company plans to lay off up to 10,000 workers.