Historic strike by Amazon workers in several countries

Make Amazon Pay protest in Germany (27 Nov 2023)

November 24, was marked by worldwide protests and strike actions by workers of Amazon. On that day, which is one of the busiest days for sales in North America and Europe, thousands of Amazon delivery and warehouse workers went on strike simultaneously, in about 30 countries. The protesting workers marked the day as ‘Black Friday’, the day after Thanksgiving holiday in the US, because Amazon offers big discounts to boost sales and expects to make big profits on this day. They were joined by thousands of other App and Platform based gig workers. Under the banner of “Make Amazon Pay!”, the protests highlighted the demands of the Amazon workers as well as other common demands of other App and Platform based gig workers.

The global protests were co-convened by UNI Global Union and Progressive International. More than 80 workers’ unions and other mass organisations participated in these protests.

Amazon workers’ protest in New Delhi

In India, Amazon workers protests were reported in New Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Varanasi, Kolkata, Aurangabad, Rishikesh, Agra, Bhopal, Kolhapur and other cities.

The protesting workers described their severe exploitation under Amazon’s ‘performance monitoring system’, which gravely affects their mental and physical health. It may be noted that Amazon has been criticized even by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has declared that its processes are “designed for speed, not safety.”

Make Amazon Pay protest in France

Warehouse workers of Amazon India participating in the protests, highlighted their terrible working conditions. They complained of having to work in 10 hour shifts, standing continuously, to meet the designated target of processing 150 large items per hour. These targets are humanly unachievable, according to the protesting workers, but they are fired if they are unable to meet them. To meet the target, they regularly have to miss their lunch breaks and washroom breaks. Workers are forced to work even if they are sick; there is no provision of sick leave. There is no resting space within the work premises and there are no designated rest-breaks. Women workers are not granted maternity leave; instead, their services are terminated. There are no creche or childcare facilities.

The protesting workers demanded that Amazon and other giant corporates that employ platform and App based gig workers should pay the workers adequate wages that would enable a dignified human existence. They demanded recognition as workers and the right to form their own trade unions, formation of tripartite boards (including representatives of the company management, the government and the workers’ union) for collective bargaining, as well as all other rights that belong to regular workers. Their other demands were health and medical benefits, compensation for accidents while at work, social security, scrapping of the contract system and its replacement by regular employment, and an end to other exploitative practices, including sexual harassment and lack of security for women workers.

Strike actions by Amazon workers were reported in the USA, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and many other countries.

In the US, protest actions were held in California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina and Washington state.

In Germany, which is Amazon’s second-biggest market by sales last year, around 2,000 workers went on strike across six Amazon warehouses, according to reports by trade union Verdi.

In England, more than thousand workers struck work at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse and other Amazon warehouses. Trade Unions organized a demonstration in support of the striking workers outside Amazon’s UK headquarters in London.

In Italy, more than 60% of workers at the Amazon warehouse in Castel San Giovanni were on strike. In France, Amazon’s parcel lockers – located in train stations, supermarket car parks, and street corners, and used by many customers to receive orders – were plastered with posters of the strike, as workers protested on the streets.

In Bangladesh, garment workers protested against Amazon’s policies and working conditions.

This is the fourth consecutive year that Amazon workers are protesting on Black Friday. Similar protests have been organised in the last three years, in which thousands of workers were reported to have gone on strike in Italy, France, and Germany.

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