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We are not robots

Amazon workers across Europe walk out on black Friday over low wages and ‘inhuman conditions’

Amazon workers across Europe staged a walkout on Black Friday—when retailers offer major deals to holiday season shoppers the day after Thanksgiving—to protest low wages as well as “inhuman conditions” at company warehouses.

“It is one of the days that Amazon has most sales, and these are days when we can hurt more and make ourselves be heard because the company has not listened to us and does not want to reach any agreement,” said Eduardo Hernandez.

Eduardo Hernandez, a 38-year-old employee at an Amazon logistics depot in Madrid, Spain—where about 90 percent of staff walked off the job—told the Associated Press that the action was intentionally scheduled on the popular shopping day to negatively impact the company’s profits.

“It is one of the days that Amazon has most sales, and these are days when we can hurt more and make ourselves be heard because the company has not listened to us and does not want to reach any agreement,” he said.

Protests were also planned for Amazon facilities in Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Some 620 employees at Amazon distribution centers in Rheinberg and Bad Hersfeld, Germany joined the walkout to demand higher wages, while union members in the U.K. organized actions at five warehouses across the country to highlight safety concerns.

As Tim Roache, head of the London-based GMB union explained: “The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman. They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious, and being taken away in ambulances.”

While Amazon denies these claims—telling Business Insider in a statement Thursday that “all of our sites are safe places to work and reports to the contrary are simply wrong”—Roache said the workers are “standing up and saying enough is enough.”

Amazon CEO “Jeff Bezos is the richest bloke on the planet; he can afford to sort this out. You’d think making the workplace safer so people aren’t carted out of the warehouse in an ambulance is in everyone’s interest,” Roache added. “These are people making Amazon its money. People with kids, homes, bills to pay—they’re not robots.”

In a video from the union targeting Bezos, workers also declared in multiple languages, “We are not robots.” Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the U.K.’s Labour Party, shared the video on Twitter and expressed “solidarity” with those participating in the walkout.

Jessica Corbett is a staff writer at Common Dreams, where this article first appeared. It is printed here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Poor old Amazon

Recall that Amazon’s profits—and Jeff Bezo’s wealth—will be boosted by taxpayer subsidies and government investments of more than $2.4 billion from New York and Virginia. One of the most prosperous companies in the world expects cities to buy them the people who will make their profits. New York will offer $48,000 per job (did they specify humans rather than robots?) in tax credits if the company creates 25,000 positions by 2028. Virginia is paying only $22,000 per position in tax credits.

New Yorkers will also be building Amazon’s new facilities, spending up to a half-billion dollars to build the company’s offices. Instead of property taxes, the company will be able to take advantage of a city program called PILOT to pay mostly for improvements—to its own new neighborhood.

Virginia made out a little better, offering to invest only a couple hundred million in the company’s facilities.

You’d think New Yorkers, at least, would get a discount on their Amazon orders. Or maybe the company could pay a good wage to the people who actually perform its services…

 

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