Amazon workers in 30 other countries protest on Black Friday
Amazon workers and activists in 30 countries marked the traditional start of holiday shopping season with a series of walkouts and protests to demand better pay and working conditions.
In Manhattan, activists, labor unions and Amazon workers marched outside company founder Jeff Bezos’ penthouse in the tony Flatiron district.
Outside St. Louis, a few dozen workers walked out of the massive STL8 facility on Friday afternoon. It’s the second wildcat strike at the 900,000-square-foot fulfillment center, where workers also picketed in September to protest pay and working conditions. Workers at the location are calling for a raise of $10 an hour and the improvement of working conditions they say lead to too many workers being injured on the job.
The groups involved with the campaign are promoting it on Twitter under the hashtag #MakeAmazonPay. They have a variety of demands. Many are asking for higher pay, worker surveillance to be ended and a work environment that encourages workplace injuries.
Labor actions are also planned at Whole Foods stores, which Amazon owns, and at other locations in Bessemer, Alabama; Columbia, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Durham, North Carolina; Garner, North Carolina; Joliet, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, D.C.
In Germany, workers demonstrated at nine out of 20 warehouses Amazon has in the country, the company told Reuters, although it said the “vast majority” of employees reported to work as usual.
In Coventry, England, workers rallied in the evening outside an Amazon facility, saying “We are not robots. “
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, some activists rallied 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, in what has already been named #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 to kill worker-lead union efforts,” Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union, a group spearheading the protests, said in a statement. “It’s high time that the tech giant stops its dangerous and unsafe practices, respects the law, and negotiates with workers who want to improve their jobs.” “
Among the countries where Amazon is facing 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 the U.K.
Monika di Silvestre, an official with Ver.di, a German labor group helping to organize the #MakeAmazonPay campaign, told Bloomberg that workers are particularly concerned with Amazon’s use of computers to monitor their productivity.
“The workers are under a lot of pressure with these algorithms,” she said. It doesn’t distinguish between workers, no matter how old or limited mobility. Workers are unable to sleep at night because they only think about their productivity stats. “
Nearly half of all injuries recorded in U.S. warehouses in 2021 occurred at Amazon, according to the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of unions.
“Amazon employed one-third of all warehouse workers in the U.S., but it was responsible for nearly one-half (49%) of all injuries in the warehouse industry,” according to the report by the SOC.
Amazon has previously defended its safety record and denied that injury rates are higher at the company’s warehouses.
The company has faced mounting pressure in the U.S. from workers seeking to unionize. Earlier this year, a warehouse on Staten Island in New York City became the first Amazon fulfillment center to organize, and other facilities have also filed for collective bargaining rights. Most recently, workers at an Amazon warehouse in upstate New York voted against unionizing.
A federal judge last week ordered Amazon to stop retaliating against employees participating in workplace activism. In a court case brought in March by the National Labor Relations Board, Amazon was ordered to stop retaliating against employees who participated in workplace activism.
–CBS News’ Irina Ivanova and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Alain Sherter covers business and economic affairs for CBSNews.com.
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