Amazon Faces Global Protests Over Working Conditions on Black Friday

Amazon is facing widespread protests across Europe as workers took to the streets to voice their grievances against the e-commerce giant’s labor practices.
Amazon warehouse and automationUnder the banner “Make Amazon Pay,” orchestrated by the UNI Global Union, workers  unfolded demonstrations in over 30 countries during Black Friday — a day synonymous with steep discounts and heightened sales, Reuters news report said.

Traditionally associated with long queues at brick-and-mortar stores in the US, Black Friday has transitioned predominantly online, with Amazon at the forefront of this shift. This year, the retail giant extended its holiday discount period from November 17 to November 27.

In Germany, Amazon’s second-largest market, around 2,000 employees staged strikes at six fulfillment centers, according to estimates by trade union Verdi. Notably, 500 workers walked out at a Rheinberg warehouse, constituting nearly 40 percent of the workforce, while approximately 250 employees did the same in Leipzig, accounting for roughly 20 percent of staff.

In response, an Amazon spokesperson in Germany downplayed the impact, stating that only a small fraction of workers participated in the strikes. They defended the company’s wage policies, citing a starting salary exceeding 14 euros per hour and assuring customers of timely Black Friday deliveries.

Simultaneously, over 200 workers protested at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse in England, highlighting a persistent dispute over wages and working conditions. Chanting for a pay increase to £15 per hour, the strikers amplified their demands for fairer compensation.

However, Amazon UK contended that the minimum starting pay ranged between £11.80 and £13 per hour, escalating to £12.30 to £13 per hour by April 2024. The company affirmed that the strike would not disrupt operations.

The unrest extended to Italy, where CGIL reported more than 60 percent of employees at the Castel San Giovanni warehouse participated in the strike. Amazon, in contrast, claimed that over 86 percent of its workforce showed up for duty, asserting minimal operational impact.

In Spain, the CCOO union called for a one-hour strike among Amazon warehouse and delivery workers during “Cyber Monday” next week, further intensifying the series of demonstrations against the company.

France witnessed protests organized by anti-globalization group Attac, targeting Amazon’s parcel lockers across the country with posters and barricade tape. Labeling Black Friday as a celebration of excess consumption, Attac aimed to disrupt 40 lockers. Amazon assured customers that all lockers remained accessible.

Despite the uproar, Amazon continues to maintain its popularity in Europe, holding a strong user base compared to burgeoning rivals like Shein and Temu, with 146 million active app users in October.

The widespread protests underscore growing discontent among Amazon workers across Europe, amplifying calls for improved wages and better working conditions as the e-commerce giant navigates one of the most significant shopping periods of the year.

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