Amazon workers across the globe are staging strikes and protests today on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year for the company.
Employees in over 30 countries, including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, France and more, are demanding better wages and better conditions.
“We are here today to tell Amazon [that] if you want to keep your empire going, talk to GMB to improve the pay and conditions of workers,” said Amanda Gearing, a senior organizer at the GMB to The Guardian. “Amazon workers are overworked, underpaid and they have had enough.”
“This is the first time that Amazon has had an international strike day,” said Monika Di Silvestre, Verdi’s representative for Amazon workers. “This is very important because a major global corporation like Amazon cannot be confronted locally, regionally or nationally alone.”
In France, the SUD and CGT unions are calling for strike actions at eight Amazon warehouses. Mostly protests are planned in other European countries such as Italy, Spain, Poland, Netherlands, and Belgium.
Amazon has faced coordinated work stoppages and protests in Europe before. But today’s Black Friday actions across the globe are a global collective effort through ‘Make Amazon Pay,‘ a cross-border coalition of unions, environmentalists and citizens.
While wages and labor conditions top the list of grievances, the ‘Make Amazon Pay’ coalition also raises taxation and environmental concerns about Amazon’s business.
Amazon denies these charges and about today’s Black Friday actions that focus on labor issues, a spokesperson for Amazon in Germany said, “As an employer, Amazon offers great pay, benefits and development opportunities – all in an attractive and safe working environment.”
Amazon Labor US and Canada
While concerns about Amazon’s work conditions and pay in the United States have been in the news frequently through the years, the company has only recently begun to face increased attempts at unionization and widespread protests.
One of the US most powerful labor unions, The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, launched an Amazon division earlier this year and organized a rally in front of the company’s Seattle world headquarters.
Amazon routinely counters the criticism about its workplace by stating they are proud to offer “industry-leading” pay, benefits and career opportunities.
With the recent momentum by organized labor to spotlight Amazon’s workplace environment in the US, more than a dozen protests are planned today on Black Friday from Florida to Washington State — including one strike action at a St. Louis area fulfillment center in St. Peters, MO (STL8).
The organizers of the St. Louis area fulfillment center strike said on the ‘Make Amazon Pay’ website: “We are demanding a $10 per hour raise, safer working conditions, appropriate accommodations for workplace injuries, off-site access to the entirety of Amazon’s digital employee policy manual, and the right to form a union without retaliation.”
And while most protests in North America are in the United States, in Canada, there appears to be one protest planned at a Montreal area fulfillment center (YUL2), according to the ‘Make Amazon Pay’ website.
Will The Black Friday Protests and Strikes Impact Amazon Operations?
While these global protests and strike actions today bring media attention, their effects on fulfillment and operations at Amazon are minimal.
A few strike actions in Europe may delay some orders, but the actions in the US and Canada are mostly protests with no impact on operations. Even the one planned strike at the St. Louis facility may only have a very small impact.
With Amazon’s vast network of fulfillment centers across the globe, the company can easily withstand these activities.
Amazon sellers should not be too concerned about order processing and fulfillment of these planned Black Friday strikes and protest actions at Amazon warehouses.
However, as the ‘Make Amazon Pay’ global movement is gaining steam, the publicity may have shoppers rethink buying from Amazon.
And that might be the bigger problem in the long run. If Amazon can’t find a way to resolve its growing labor problem, it could create further headwinds on sales.
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