Amazon workers and their supporters have held protests in dozens of countries to protest the retail giant’s labor policies.
From Germany and France to the United States, India to Japan and the United Kingdom, Amazon workers downed tools or joined marches on Friday to demand better working conditions and fair wages.
The moves coincided with Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, when significant discounts boosted sales and added stress to retail and warehouse staff.
The Make Amazon Pay coalition, which called for strikes, said industrial action and protests were taking place in more than 30 countries.
Demonstrations were held in Germany 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 were working normally.
The Verdi trade union, which has called a strike in Germany, has demanded that the company recognize collective agreements for the retail and mail-order trade sectors.
It also called for another collective agreement on worker welfare, with a spokesman noting that warehouse workers can walk 15 to 20 kilometers (9.3 to 12.4 miles) a day to work.
— Progressive International (@ProgIntl) November 24, 2022
An Amazon spokeswoman in Germany said the company “offers great pay, benefits and growth opportunities – all in an attractive work environment.”
Among other things, the spokeswoman pointed to a pay rise for Germany’s Amazon logistics workers starting in September, with a starting wage of 13 euros an hour or more, including bonus payments.
But with inflation in Germany at its highest level in decades, more than 10 percent, a Verdi spokesman in Koblenz called the latest wage increase a “drop in the pelvis.”
Bastian Zafi, an Amazon employee in Germany, says: “You can’t survive these days with the little money or salary you earn.” “I have three children and we both work and we have a big problem. Because expenses have increased so much that you can’t live with what you earn.”
In France, where union groups SUD and CGT have called for strike action at eight of the country’s warehouses, campaigners said they demonstrated outside Amazon’s Bretigny-sur-Orge site near Paris on Friday morning, while another 50 people stayed home. a total of 5,000 full-time and temporary workers at that location.
Amazon France said there were no signs of disruption to operations so far.
SUD claimed a Black Friday bonus of €1,000, double the payment offered by Amazon, as well as a €150 bonus for the fourth quarter working weekend.
In the United States, workers at an Amazon facility in St. Peters, Missouri, walked off the job, while unions representing the retailer’s workers in New York staged demonstrations in front of Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’ apartment building.
STL8 Amazon Facility workers walk off the job on BLACK FRIDAY to demand higher wages, safer working conditions, respect and the right to unionize without retaliation. #MakeAmazonPay #AmazonHeavy #UnitiesForAll pic.twitter.com/nMBkruDVVy
– Missouri Workers Center (@moworkerscenter) November 25, 2022
Protesters are currently gathering outside Jeff Bezos’ Manhattan penthouse, demanding Amazon pay taxes, pay its workers and pay for the damage it’s doing to the planet.
— More Perfect US (@MorePerfectUS) November 25, 2022
There was no immediate comment from Amazon US.
Protests and rallies were also held in several other countries and territories, including Argentina, Ireland, South Africa, Palestine, Bangladesh and Australia.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the U.S. Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union, said Amazon was denying workers their humanity.
“Amazon workers face the same inhumane treatment from Amazon, no matter what country they live or work in, anywhere in the world. Conditions are working so badly for Amazon that there is a 150 percent turnover per year,” he said.
“The rising cost of living makes it worse,” he said.
“Amazon’s business model is to treat people like robots. They are controlled by an algorithm, they are fired by text messages on their phones, people are afraid to go to the bathroom because they might lose their jobs if they fail to meet their productivity quota.”
— 東京ユニオン (@toukyouyunion) November 25, 2022
Amazon, which has more than 1.5 million workers worldwide, most of whom are hourly workers, has refused to recognize unions.
He 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 cut up to 10,000 jobs.