Amazon workers and activists in 30 countries marked the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season with a series of walkouts and protests to demand better wages and working conditions.
In Manhattan, activists, unions and Amazon workers marched outside company founder Jeff Bezos’ penthouse in the tony Flatiron district.
Outside St. Louis, a few dozen workers walked out of the massive STL8 facility Friday afternoon. It is the second wildcat strike at the 900,000-square-foot fulfillment center, where workers also chose to protest wages and working conditions in September. Workers at the site are demanding a $1[ads1]0-an-hour raise and the improvement in working conditions they say is causing too many workers to be injured on the job.
The groups involved in the campaign are promoting it on Twitter under the hashtag #MakeAmazonPay. They have a number of requirements. Many are asking for increased wages, an end to worker monitoring and a pace of work that contributes to an above-average number of workplace injuries.
Work actions are also planned at Whole Foods stores, which Amazon owns, and at other locations in Bessemer, Alabama; Columbia, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Durham, North Carolina; Garner, North Carolina; Joliet, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Ore.; and Washington, DC
In Germany, workers demonstrated at nine out of 20 warehouses Amazon has in the country, the company told Reuters, although it said the “vast majority” of employees reported working as usual.
In Coventry, England, workers gathered in the evening outside an Amazon plant and said “We are not robots”.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, some activists gathered in front of the National Congress building with signs reading “Make Amazon Pay.”
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on the actions.
“On Black Friday, in what has already been 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 campaigns to kill worker-led union efforts, Christy Hoffman, general secretary of the UNI Global Union, a group leading the protests, said in a statement. “It is time for the tech giant to end its appalling, unsafe practices immediately, respect the law and negotiate with the workers who want to do their jobs better. “
Among the countries where Amazon is facing 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 Great Britain
Monika di Silvestre, an official at Ver.di, a German labor group that helps organize the #MakeAmazonPay campaign, told Bloomberg that workers are particularly concerned about Amazon’s use of 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 have limited mobility. Workers stay awake at night thinking only about the productivity statistics.”
Almost half of all injuries were recorded in US warehouses in 2021according to the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of unions.
“Amazon employed one-third of all warehouse workers in the United States, but it was responsible for nearly half (49%) of all warehouse industry injuries,” according to the SOC report.
Amazon has previously defended its safety record and denied that the damage rate is higher at the company’s warehouses.
The company has faced increasing pressure in the US from workers who want to organize. Earlier this year, a warehouse on Staten Island in New York City, and other plants have also applied for collective bargaining rights. Most recently, workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York state .
A federal judge last week ordered Amazon to stop retaliating against employees who participate in workplace activism. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the National Labor Relations Board, which sued Amazon in March seeking reinstatement of a fired employee involved in organizing the company’s Staten Island warehouse.
—CBS News’ Irina Ivanova and The Associated Press contributed to this report.