Thousands of Amazon workers are today staging demonstrations in protest against the ‘inhuman conditions’ people work under at the company’s warehouses.
Strikes and demonstrations will hit Germany, Italy, Spain, and the retail giant’s warehouses in Rugeley, Swansea, Peterborough, Milton Keynes and Warrington.
They are staging protests on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, arguing: ‘Next-day delivery should not mean a lifetime of pain for Amazon workers.’
A representative from GMB, the union for Amazon workers, stages a protest outside the Amazon Swansea fulfillment centre at Ffordd in Swansea, Wales
Members of the GMB union protest outside the Amazon offices in Milton Keynes
Amazon reportedly called the Spanish National Police to break the strike in San Fernando de Henares
WHY ARE AMAZON WORKERS PROTESTING?
An investigation by GMB – the union for Amazon workers – earlier this year revealed ambulances were called out to Amazon warehouses 600 times during the past three financial years.
One of the retail giant’s ‘fulfilment centres,’ the 1,500-worker Rugeley warehouse, was recently labelled ‘one of the most dangerous places to work in Britain.’
Separate figures by GMB revealed a total of 602 reports have been made from Amazon warehouses to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
GMB members working in Amazon warehouses also reported working in constant agony, not having time to go to the toilet and a heavily pregnant woman being forced to work standing.
Workers are protesting Amazon’s ‘dangerous, high-pressure work culture and its aggressive anti-union actions.’
The strikes could affect delivery across Europe in key countries.
After the United States, Germany and the UK are Amazon’s second and third biggest markets, respectively.
GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: ‘We’re standing up and saying enough is enough.
‘You’d think making the workplace safer so people aren’t carted out of the warehouse in an ambulance is in everyone’s interest, but Amazon seemingly have no will to get round the table with us.
‘Working people and the communities Amazon operates in deserve better than this. That’s what we’re campaigning for.’
Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union added: ‘Amazon’s refusal to negotiate with unions is not only a violation of workers’ rights, it is dangerous.
‘By not addressing workers concerns, hazards remain, and the injuries continue.
‘Next-day delivery should not mean a lifetime of pain for Amazon workers.’
One Amazon UK worker said: ‘I have repetitive strain, and spondylosis with arthritis.
‘The work is dehumanising, you are a number not a person.
‘If you have health issues, the Amazon way is to pay you off and replace you with temporary workers with less terms and conditions.’
Andreja Schmidtkunz, a German Amazon worker and ver.di member said: ‘I’ve seen too many people starting healthy and now having their second or third surgery already.
‘You start at the company healthy and leave it as a broken human.’
Workes demonstrating outside the Amazon Swansea fulfillment centre at Ffordd this morning
Workers arrive as GMB, the union for Amazon workers, stages a protest over what it claims are ‘inhuman conditions’ in Wales
Workers are protesting Amazon’s ‘dangerous, high-pressure work culture and its aggressive anti-union actions.’ Pictured, a protester in Swansea
Amazon Spain said around 90 percent of workers at a logistics depot in near Madrid joined the walkout Friday.
Only two people were at the loading bay, spokesman Douglas Harper said.
However, he said Amazon had diverted cargo deliveries to its other 22 depots in the country.
Amazon reportedly called the Spanish National Police to break the strike in San Fernando de Henares.
Fiorenzo Molinari, the local FILCAMS CGIL secretary in Piacenza, added: ‘Amazon has not made worker safety a top priority.
‘To us, it seems like the company only pretends to care. Our warnings about unsafe conditions often go ignored, and our concerns about our jobs get deflected.’
Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union said: ‘Amazon’s refusal to negotiate with unions is not only a violation of workers’ rights, it is dangerous.’ Pictured , the Swansea warehouse
Police guard the entrance as workers stand outside the main Amazon Logistics Centre where goods are stored for distribution on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain today
The company’s request was denied, as labour relations does not fall within the police’s purview and Spanish legislation protects the right to strike.
When asked about the reasons why he is striking, Spanish Amazon worker Kevin Douglas said: ‘I’ve been working long hours, getting home late, tired, and under a lot of stress. We do morning shifts, then evening and night shifts.
‘Now we have to work six days in a row, but the company now wants to make that seven. At least some of us used to have one day off a week.
‘Most of my friends and family work from Monday to Friday, so I never get to spend time with them.’
Police officers talk with a driver outside Amazon’s facilities in San Fernando de Henares, the biggest in Spain
When asked about the reasons why he is striking, Spanish Amazon worker Kevin Douglas said: ‘I’ve been working long hours, getting home late, tired, and under a lot of stress’
Amazon said in a statement: ‘Amazon has created in the UK more than 25,000 good jobs with a minimum of £9.50 an hour and in the London area, £10.50 an hour on top of industry-leading benefits and skills training opportunities.
‘All of our sites are safe places to work and reports to the contrary are simply wrong. According to the UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive, Amazon has over 40% fewer injuries on average than other transportation and warehousing companies in the UK.
‘We encourage everyone to compare our pay, benefits and working conditions to others and come see for yourself on one of the public tours we offer every day at our centres across the UK.’