WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Amazon employees staged strikes across Europe on Black Friday, one of the online retailer’s busiest days of the year.
- The unions behind the protests called for better wages, safer working conditions, and environmental responsibility.
- Meanwhile, Amazon claimed that the unions “are conjuring misinformation to work in their favor, when in fact we already offer the things they claim to be fighting for.”
Amazon employees have staged strikes all over Europe to call for better wages and safer working conditions on Black Friday, one of the online retailer’s busiest days of the year.
The protests are expected to extend into “Amazon Prime Day,” a discount event for the company’s Prime members on Monday and Tuesday.
The unions behind the strikes
The walkouts across the United Kingdom were organized by the GMB Union, which represents about 62,000 workers.
GMB’s primary demand is to have safe working conditions. The union’s investigations discovered more than 600 ambulance call-outs to Amazon warehouses over a three-year period and more than 600 serious injuries.
They also cited a 2018 report that revealed a majority of Amazon workers feared using the bathroom for fear of missing productivity goals.
The protests in France and Germany were organized by the Berlin-based group Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, which means “United Services Trade Union” in German. More commonly known as “Verdi” or “ver.di,” it has more than 2 million members across more than 1,000 occupations. Verdi has organized strikes against Amazon since the spring of 2013.
Verdi official Orhan Akman remarked that Amazon has kept staging huge Black Friday events while workers lack a living wage.
Meanwhile, Amazon officials told Newsweek that the workers’ wages are in the upper end of what people make in comparable jobs, and that the unions are “misleading” the media for their own gain.
An Amazon spokesperson told Yahoo! Finance, “These groups are conjuring misinformation to work in their favor, when in fact we already offer the things they claim to be fighting for.”
Protests across Europe
On Friday, GMB convened protesters at Amazon warehouses in eight cities and towns in Britain: London, Manchester, Bolton, Coalville, Newport, Rugeley, Sheffield, and Warrington.
The protests in France began Thursday night. Dozens of activists formed a human chain as appliances were left outside the Amazon center in Bretigny-sur-Orge. Climate change activists also protested against the company’s greenhouse gas-dumping rapid delivery services.
On Friday, thousands of workers walked out of Amazon centers in six German cities and towns: Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Graben, Koblenz, Rheinberg, and Werne, according to a BBC report.
The company assured customers that packages will still arrive on time
Amazon instructed several outlets that protests shouldn’t disrupt packages over the weekend.
An Amazon spokesperson told CNN Business, “While we don’t provide exact numbers, we are seeing very limited participation across Germany with zero operational impact and therefore no impact on customer deliveries.”