Amazon warehouse workers in the UK and 40 other countries are to strike and stage protests timed to coincide with Black Friday sales, one of the company’s biggest shopping days of the year.
Workers in dozens of countries, from Japan and Australia to India, the US and across Europe, are demanding better pay and conditions in a campaign called “Make Amazon Pay”.
In the UK, hundreds of members of the GMB union are staging strikes or protests at a number of Amazon warehouses, including a protest outside the fulfillment center in Coventry.
“We̵[ads1]7;re here today to tell Amazon [that] if you want to keep your empire going, talk to GMB to improve pay and conditions for workers, says Amanda Gearing, senior organizer at GMB. “Amazon workers are overworked, underpaid and they’ve had enough.”
Profits at Amazon Services UK, the group’s warehousing and logistics business, which is believed to employ more than half of the company’s UK workforce of close to 75,000 people, have risen by 60% to £204m, with revenue growing by just over a quarter to more than £6 billion last year.
Workers are calling for a pay rise from £10.50 to £15 an hour as the cost of living crisis hits household budgets.
However, taking part in the UK action could mean protesters miss out on the second part of a £500 bonus agreed by Amazon for tens of thousands of frontline workers.
Last month, Amazon UK said the award of the second part of the payment was dependent on staff not taking “unauthorised absences” between November 22 and Christmas Eve.
The GMB argued that linking the payment to staff attendance could be seen as an illegal strike stoppage.
In Dublin, Extinction Rebellion has organized a protest outside Amazon’s offices from 1 p.m.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “These groups represent a range of interests, and while we’re not perfect in any area, if you look objectively at what Amazon is doing on these important issues, you’ll see that we take our role and our impact very seriously serious.”
“We are innovating and investing significantly in all of these areas, playing a significant role in addressing climate change with our climate pledge commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040, continuing to offer competitive wages and great benefits, and inventing new ways to retain our employees. safe and sound in our operational network, to name just a few.”
In London, security guards and CCTV operators at Harrods are also on strike on Black Friday, including staging a protest outside the luxury Knightsbridge store, the first of 12 days of action over the festive period.
More than 50 staff are taking part in the protests, which are to be held every weekend in December and include Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, over a 7% pay offer they see as a “cut” with inflation at more than 11%.
Last month Harrods, which is owned by the Qatar Investment Authority, reported an annual profit of £51m, more than doubled its chief executive’s pay to £2.3m and revealed it had collected almost £6m in government aid during his leave of absence Covid. arrangement.
“Harrods and its owners can certainly afford to pay these workers a rise that reflects the skyrocketing cost of living,” said Sharon Graham, the general secretary of the Unite union.
Meanwhile, trade body UKHospitality said a series of planned rail strikes in the run-up to Christmas will cost UK restaurants, pubs, clubs and bars £1.5 billion and called on the government to bring all partners to the table to try to reach a solution.
Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, said the strikes would continue, after an initial meeting with Transport Secretary Mark Harper to try to resolve the dispute on Thursday.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said the disruption and financial cost of the strikes would lead to another lost Christmas on the scale of the impact of the Omicron variant of Covid last year.
“This disruption will devastate hospitality businesses during the busiest period of the year and will in turn force the public to cancel and rearrange plans,” she said. “The impact of rail strikes already this year has been devastating and far-reaching, but this will pale in comparison to what we will see as a result of the upcoming strikes in December.”