WORKING people across the world were leading a coalition taking action on Black Friday 26th November to build pressure on Amazon to improve its treatment of its employees, the environment and the tax system.
Amazon workers and activists in over 20 countries and across six continents took part in the MakeAmazonPay protests.
MakeAmazonPay chose eight locations to represent the depth of Amazon’s abuse and the scale of the resistance to its business practices:
- an oil refinery in Latin America
- a supply chain factory in Asia
- a container ship in Latin America
- a warehouse in North America
- a trucking depot in Europe
- a regional office in Africa
- a finance ministry in Europe.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: ‘Amazon workers paid for their old boss Jeff Bezos to go to space, but they’re not asking for the moon. They’re demanding nothing more than justice and respect.
‘Amazon made so much money during the pandemic it could pay every worker $690,000 and still be as rich as at the start of the pandemic.
‘Amazon makes this money by exploiting its workers, fighting their right to organise unions to improve their working lives, damaging the environment, and not paying its fair share of tax that provides the services we all rely on.
‘The ITUC categorically backs this call to MakeAmazonPay and make Amazon a better company that respects, listens to and values the working people behind its success.’
The MakeAmazonPay coalition includes the ITUC, UNI Global Union, over 70 trade unions, civil society organisations, environmentalists and tax watchdogs.
At MakeAmazonPay.com anyone can sign up to the Common Demands of the coalition, donate to the campaign or find an action near them to support.
Germany’s DiEM25 said: ‘Today, Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, Amazon faces strikes of warehouse workers and delivery drivers in Germany, Italy and France and supportive protests in a further 22 countries around the world, in actions coordinated by the MakeAmazonPay coalition.
‘The MakeAmazonPay coalition, which is co-convened by UNI Global Union and the Progressive International, is made up over 70 trade unions, civil society organisations, environmentalists and tax watchdogs including UNI Global Union, the Progressive International, DiEM25, Oxfam, Greenpeace, 350.org, Tax Justice Network and Amazon Workers International.
‘The coalition demands Amazon pays its workers fairly and respects their right to join unions, pays its fair share of taxes and commits to real environmental sustainability.
‘MakeAmazonPay was launched a year ago as 50 organisations came together to deliver a set of Common Dem-ands on the two-trillion dollar company, holding strikes and protests in 16 countries around the world on November 27th 2020.
‘This year’s actions are much larger with strikes and protests taking place in multiple cities in at least 25 countries across every inhabited continent on earth.
‘The global day of action brings together activists from different struggles – labour, environment, tax, data, privacy, anti-monopoly – as trade unionists, civil society activists and environmentalists hold joint actions.’
Highlights from MakeAmazonPay day included:
- In Germany, warehouse workers on strike, organised by trade union ver.di, and the launch in Berlin of new group Amazon Workers against Surveillance, a coalition of Amazon warehouse and tech workers;
- In Italy, warehouse workers were on strike and blockading warehouses, organised by trade union Cobas, after Amazon caved into CGIL demands, representing thousands of drivers, who were set to strike on Friday;
- In France, warehouse workers went on strike, organised by trade unions Sud Solidaires and CGT, and action by Amis de La Terre in Nantes to celebrate activists’ victory in stopping an Amazon warehouse construction;
- In Canada, activists organised by the Warehouse Workers’ Centre and Niki Ashton MP protested outside an Amazon warehouse in Brampton, Ontario;
- In Cambodia, garment workers in Amazon’s supply chain protested outside their shuttered factory in Phnom Penh demanding the $3.6 million severance payments they are owned;
- In the UK, workers and activists protested outside Amazon’s London headquarters;
- In Belgium, workers and activists protested outside the European Parliament in Brussels;
- In the Netherlands, trade union FNV held a protest at the Alblasserdam shipyard where Jeff Bezos’ mega yacht is under construction;
- In Bangladesh, the garment workers union held protests outside two factories, one in Chittagong, one in Dhaka;
- In Austria, activists in Graz protested against the construction of a major Amazon facility;
- In the USA, workers and activists protested at a New York City warehouse and workers and activists organised by the Warehouse Worker Resource Centre and Athena held a worker tribunal in Ontario, California;
- In Poland, warehouse workers organised by Amazon Workers International protested outside a Poznan warehouse and an Ozzip protest in Warsaw took place against the sacking of a shop steward;
- In Argentina, environmentalists and civic activists protested at the Axion oil refinery, which runs on Amazon Web Services;
- In South Africa, activists from the Liesbeek Action Campaign protested at the construction of Amazon’s regional headquarters on land and water sacred to the Khoisan people, the indigenous people of the region;
- In Australia, workers and activists protested in Sydney;
- In India, the Hawkers Action Committee, representing small businesses and traders, held protests in New Delhi, Ghaziabad, Lucknow, Bangalore and Thane;
- In Slovakia, workers and activists protested over warehouse working conditions;
- In Spain, environmentalist groups held a protest in Barcelona against Amazon’s drive towards climate disaster;
- In Brazil, dockers, a group crucial to Amazon’s global logistics empire, protested in solidarity with their fellow workers everywhere;
- In Turkey, workers and activists organised by DISK trade union protested outside a regional headquarters in Istanbul;
- In Colombia, workers and activists held a protest at a call centre recently opened by Amazon.
Christy Hoffman, UNI Global Union’s General Secretary, said: ‘Around the world workers are taking action to demand dignity and respect at Amazon.
‘When workers join together in unions they are unstoppable – the significant gains that Italian drivers and couriers made this week are just the latest example of this.
‘Today we are standing with our allies to make Amazon pay. Together, we can reign in the power of Amazon and strengthen our democracies.’
Casper Gelderblom, MakeAmazonPay coordinator at the Progressive International, said on Friday: ‘Today’s actions show the scale of resistance to Amazon’s exploitation at every link in its chain of abuse.
‘Workers throughout the supply chain are demanding what’s rightfully theirs, when even Jeff Bezos admits their labour paid for his recent joyride to space.
‘From Amazon’s fulfilment centres to its tech hubs, and from garment factories to call centres, workers are joining forces with activist allies to demand justice from a corporation that takes too much and gives too little.
‘Last year, our coalition launched its fight against Amazon’s shocking tax abuse, soaring pollution, and shameless mistreatment of the very people who produce the corporation’s wealth.
‘This year, our strikes and protests stretch across all six inhabited continents. But we are only just beginning. We will continue to raise our voices even louder to make Amazon pay.’
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Warehouse Worker Centre (WWC) said it was joining Progressive International ‘in a global movement with worker, tech, and climate justice organisations and advocacy groups collaborating across borders.