Amazon faces worker protests on Black Friday: #MakeAmazonPay spreads globally - Hindustan Times
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Amazon faces worker protests on Black Friday: #MakeAmazonPay spreads globally

Nov 25, 2023 01:28 AM IST

Global coalition of Amazon employees and activists protest on Black Friday, demanding workers' rights, tax adherence, and higher environmental standards.

On Black Friday, a coalition of Amazon warehouse employees and activists worldwide will unite in a day of protests, strikes, and actions known as #MakeAmazonPay. The demands are clear: respect workers' right to unionize, adhere to tax laws, and commit to higher environmental standards.

A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest outside the Amazon headquarters during Black Friday in London, Britain, November 24, 2023.(REUTERS)
A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest outside the Amazon headquarters during Black Friday in London, Britain, November 24, 2023.(REUTERS)

Protests will span Amazon's global supply chain, from Brazil to the United States, with actions in Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Poland, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Australia. In Germany alone, 3,000 workers are expected to strike at six Amazon facilities, while in Bangladesh, garment workers who produce Amazon-sold clothes will voice their concerns.

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The #MakeAmazonPay statement, signed by 39 organizations and directed at Amazon, highlights the stark contrast between the company's success and its treatment of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. It reads, "Amazon warehouse workers risked their lives as essential workers, and only briefly received an increase in pay."

The demands, supported by over 50 social justice organizations, include higher wages, reinstating fired workers who spoke up about safety concerns, allowing union access to Amazon worksites, achieving zero emissions by 2030, and ending the sale of surveillance-dependent devices like Amazon Ring. Amazon is also urged to pay taxes in full where economic activity occurs.

While Amazon spokesperson Conor Sweeney defends the company's record, emphasizing safe working conditions, a $15 minimum wage, and climate change initiatives, critics argue that Amazon's success is at the expense of public institutions. Alex Cobham from the Tax Justice Network notes, "If we allow Amazon to keep all these excess profits, it will only strengthen its monopoly position."

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The protests follow a Motherboard report revealing Amazon's extensive surveillance of workers, unions, and environmental movements. The company closely monitors union activity, tracks environmentalist groups on social media, and reportedly hires the Pinkerton Detective Agency for surveillance.

#MakeAmazonPay is not just a call for change within Amazon but a broader plea for corporate responsibility, echoing concerns about labor rights, environmental impact, and fair taxation. As Black Friday kicks off Amazon's peak season, these coordinated global actions serve as a powerful reminder that workers and activists are demanding accountability and change.

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