Amazon workers in 30 other countries protest on Black Friday

Amazon workers and activists in 30 countries marked the start of the traditional holiday shopping season with a series of walkouts and protests to demand better pay and working conditions.

In Manhattan, activists, unions and Amazon workers marched outside company founder Jeff Bezos’ penthouse in the tony Flatiron district.

A few dozen workers walked out of the massive STL8 facility outside St. Louis on Friday afternoon. This is 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 site are demanding a $10-an-hour raise, and they say improving working conditions is leading to too many workers being injured on the job.

Groups involved in the campaign are promoting it on Twitter with the hashtag #MakeAmazonPay. They have a series of requirements. Many are calling for higher wages, an end to worker monitoring and a work pace that contributes to above-average injury rates.

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Labor actions are also planned at Amazon-owned Whole Foods stores and other locations in Bessemer, Alabama; Columbia, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Durham, North Carolina; Garner, North Carolina; Joliet, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, DC

In Germany, workers took part in demonstrations at nine of Amazon’s 20 warehouses in the country, the company told Reuters, although the “vast majority” of workers reported working as usual.

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In Coventry, England, workers rallied outside an Amazon facility in the evening, saying: “We are not robots.”

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, some activists gathered outside the National Congress building, holding signs that read “Make Amazon Pay.”

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on the actions.

“On Black Friday, already dubbed #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 multi-million dollar campaign to kill the efforts of labor-led unions.” protest group UNI Global Union Secretary General Christy Hoffman said in a statement. “It’s time for the tech giant to immediately end its horrible, unsafe practices, comply with the law, and negotiate with employees who want to improve their jobs.”

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Global protest

Among the countries where Amazon faces 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 United Kingdom

Monika di Silvestre, an official at the German labor group Ver.di, which is helping to organize the #MakeAmazonPay campaign, told Bloomberg that workers are particularly concerned that Amazon is using computers to monitor their productivity.

“Workers are under a lot of pressure with these algorithms,” she said. “It doesn’t differentiate between workers, whether they are old or with reduced mobility. Workers stay awake at night thinking only about their productivity statistics.”

Nearly half of all injuries reported in US warehouses in 2021 happened at Amazonaccording to the trade union coalition’s Center for Strategic Organizing.

“Amazon employed one-third of all warehouse workers in the U.S., but was responsible for nearly half (49%) of all warehousing industry injuries,” the SOC report said.

Amazon has previously defended its safety record and denied that the company’s warehouses have a higher rate of injuries.


Unions vs. Amazon: A David and Goliath Story

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The company has faced increasing pressure from workers who want to unionize. Earlier this year, a warehouse in Staten Island, New York became the first Amazon fulfillment center to be organized, and other institutions have also submitted the right to enter into collective agreements. Most recently, employees at an Amazon warehouse in New York state voted against the merger.

A federal judge last week ordered Amazon to stop retaliating against workers who participate in workplace activities. The ruling comes in a lawsuit brought by the National Labor Relations Board, which sued Amazon in March in an effort to reinstate a fired employee involved in organizing the company’s Staten Island warehouse.

— CBS News Irina Ivanova and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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