- GMB Union
- Unions in the UK, France, and Spain staged protests outside Amazon warehouses on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
- In Germany employees went on strike, and do not plan to return to work until after Cyber Monday.
- In France climate protesters blockaded the entrance to a warehouses with hay bales and old household appliances salvaged from garbage dumps.
- An Amazon spokesman said the company “already offers industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits, as well as a safe, modern working environment.”
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Amazon workers and activists across the UK, Germany, France, and Spain are protesting working conditions at the retail giant’s warehouses with demonstrations and strikes on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
The protesters were a mix of both Amazon workers and union members who are not employed at Amazon, according to union representatives who organized the demos.
In the UK members of workers union the GMB protested outside seven warehouses.
A GMB spokesman claimed to Business Insider that the number of protesters was in the hundreds, and that some Amazon employees were in attendance.
GMB organising at Amazon in Sheffield this morning. Hundreds of drivers taking leaflets and joining the union @GMB_union @GMBCampaigns @RixyieOrganiser @leeparkinson14 pic.twitter.com/sEGyvMFfmk
— Sue Wood (@SueWood09373512) November 29, 2019
Some protesters were joined by local politicians.
GMB joined by Labour Party Candidates Lou Haigh and Oliver Blake this morning outside Amazon @GMB_union @GMBCampaigns @LouHaigh @OliverBlake17 @RixyieOrganiser @leeparkinson14 pic.twitter.com/DZvOrBcbod
— Sue Wood (@SueWood09373512) November 29, 2019
A freezing dawn on #BlackFriday outside the Rugeley @amazon depot with the @GMB standing up for the rights of @amazon workers. One young man with his child nearly in tears just sacked. A 21st century company! More like a 19th century millowner. Shame on you, @JeffBezos pic.twitter.com/751vK7YFNY
— Jack Dromey MP (@JackDromeyMP) November 29, 2019
But an Amazon spokesman disputed the GMB’s figure on how many protesters turned out.
“If they are suggesting that hundreds of people have been protesting outside Amazon’s buildings in the UK this morning, that is simply not true,” the spokesman said.
Protests are also planned for Cyber Monday, and in three German warehouses strikes are planned to last through until Tuesday.
A tweet from a regional arm of Germany’s ver.di worker’s union said: “Stick to your guns!”
A spokesman for ver.di said there were more than 2,200 strikers across six locations in Germany.
— ver.di Westfalen (@verdi_Westfalen) November 29, 2019
Protesters in Spain, Amazon workers among them, gathered outside an Amazon pop-up in Madrid.
Spanish Amazon worker Julian Marval, who has been working for the company since 2012, said working conditions in his warehouse dramatically worsened in April last year. “There’s no signs of Amazon wanting to engage in negotiations,” he said.
“The conditions our members work under at various Amazon sites across the UK are appalling,” GMB national officer Mick Rix told Business Insider in a statement. “Workers are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances,” he added.
- Action Block Friday Stop Amazon Lyon/via REUTERS
Two recent investigations found the injury rates inside some US Amazon warehouses were as much as three times higher than the industry average.
“Amazon workers want Jeff Bezos to know they are people – not robots. It’s about time Mr Bezos showed empathy with the very people that have helped build his vast empire and make sure it is not a Black Friday for Amazon workers,” said Rix.
Black Friday marks the beginning of Amazon’s busiest sales period, known internally as “peak.” A UK Amazon worker previously told Business Insider that the warehouse gets “hectic.”
“You’re all over the place from the amount of orders that come in… on average you can cover eight to 20 miles a day,” they said.
In response to the protests, an Amazon spokesman told Business Insider that Amazon offers “industry-leading pay” as well as benefits and a safe working environment.
Workers’ rights activists weren’t the only protesters Amazon had to contend with in Europe this Black Friday.
On Thursday night climate activists in France blockaded the entrance to a warehouse outside Paris. The protesters stacked hay bails alongside salvaged refrigerators, washing machines, and stoves to prevent lorries from getting to the warehouse, le Monde reported.
Protesters picketing outside Amazon’s Paris headquarters, as well as activists at a sit-down protests at a Lyon distribution centre ended up in a conflict with riot police carrying batons and shields, the BBC reported.