Unions and political leaders at the Make Amazon Pay summit in Manchester, which Skwawkbox is covering for its readers, today announced plans to strike and protest Amazon in over thirty countries on Black Friday, 24 November. The strike announcement comes after Amazon yesterday announced quarterly earnings yesterday that saw profits almost triple year on year as revenue reached US$143.1 billion.
David Adler of Progressive International said of the profit announcement:
These figures clearly show that Amazon can afford to pay its workers a decent wage, to negotiate with their trade unions, to reduce its environmental damage rather than greenwash and pay its fair share of taxes. At this Summit to Make Amazon Pay, we’re coming together to make it so.
Make Amazon Pay‘s global Black Friday day of action will be the largest so far. On the same day last year, the coalition organised over one hundred and thirty-five strikes and protests across thirty-five countries. In 2023 Amazon is set to face even more disruption as workers withdraw their labour, activists protest against Amazon Web Services’ environmentally destructive practices, citizens demand the company pay its taxes and small businesses and independent booksellers condemn the giant’s anti-competitive behaviour. This year in the UK, Amazon again paid no tax.
Amazon is facing the biggest challenge to its corporate behaviour in the company’s history as workers in country upon country come together to demand better pay, conditions and recognition for their unions and regulators and legislators feel compelled to take action to make Amazon pay for damage to workers, communities and planet.
In the last twelve months, UK warehouse workers have been out on strike and German workers staged striks on Prime Day across the country. US Amazon delivery drivers formed the first ever drivers’ union and set up rolling pickets for better pay, safe jobs and union recognition.
At the same time in the US, writers in the Writers’ Guild of America won a major victory against Amazon and other film and television production studios, preventing technology being used to drive down working conditions in what once were decent jobs, while tech workers at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters walked out over Amazon’s greenwashing attempts. Near New Delhi in India, a mass protest by hundreds of warehouse workers forced Amazon into major concessions and in Bangladesh, garment workers rose up with allies across the world to demand Amazon sign the International Accord to protect their safety.
In Barcelona, the municipal government implemented a tax on Amazon’s use of “free” public space for its ‘last-mile’ deliveries. The Minnesota Senate passed the United States’ strongest Amazon warehouse worker protection bill and the Irish Senate passed a law to ban Amazon’s dumping of new and unused products. In the US and Europe, competition investigations against Amazon are in progress that could end Amazon’s monopolistic practices.
Make Amazon Pay io-convened by UNI Global Union and the Progressive International, bringing together over eighty organisations working towards labour, tax, climate, data and racial justice alongside more than four hundred parliamentarians and tens of thousands of supporters from across the world via video link. Since 2020, the campaign has organised four global days of action.
Tomorrow, Yolanda Diaz, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour of Spain, is expected to tell delegates:
We are witnessing a resurgence in the struggles of working people… [such as the] campaign on Black Friday that unites Amazon workers worldwide in a global fight for their rights. Today, the labour movement, in all its forms, is more necessary than ever. Labour, environmentalism, and feminism now demonstrate that the fights for decent work, gender equality, and a sustainable planet are one and the same.”
It’s crucial to raise our voices and demand things that, though uncommon, are common sense: that large companies respect human rights and the communities where their workers operate; that they pay their fair share; and that they contribute more effectively to the primary challenge facing humanity today, the climate emergency and its solution through a just green transition with rights, a green transition that is social.
Today via video link, US Senator Bernie Sanders said:
No company is a better poster child for the corporate greed and arrogance that we are seeing in the US, the UK and throughout the world than Amazon.
This is a company that is worth over $1.3 trillion, not billion, not million. $1.3 trillion. This is a company that made over $12 billion in profits last year. This is a company that spent over 6 billion last year not to improve the lives of their workers or to make its warehouses safer, but on stock buybacks to make its wealthy stockholders even richer. This is a company that spent over $14 million on anti-union consultants and lawyers to prevent Amazon workers from joining a union or signing a first contract.
Well, brothers and sisters, you know what I think if Mr. Bezos could afford all of those mansions and all of those yachts and all of those rocket ships. He can afford to make sure that when workers at Amazon vote to form a union, that they receive a union contract that is fair and that is just. He can afford to make sure that every Amazon worker makes a living wage with good benefits and reliable schedules, and he can make sure that Amazon is the safest place in the world to work, not one of the most dangerous.”
UNI Global Union General Secretary of UNI Global Union Christy Hoffman, co-convenor of the summit, added:
It’s important that this community of unions, political leaders and NGOs come together to strategize about using our collective power to end Amazon’s brutality towards workers and its impact on our communities. Its business model destroys the environment and crushes small business, leaving behind a monopoly without ethics or accountability. This is the critical fight for our time and together we can use our strengths to Make Amazon Pay.
Left-wing Labour MP and Progressive International council member Zarah Sultana said that legislators are feeling the pressure of the growing movement:
For three years, politicians have seen this inspiring global movement come together to Make Amazon Pay its workers, its tax and for its damage to our environment. Workers and citizens around the world have stepped up with coordinated strikes and protests.
Now it’s time for the legislators and regulators to stand with them by advancing new laws and regulations that Make Amazon Pay. Together, we can build popular power and turn it into real change: better pay and conditions, fairer taxes and radically improved environmental actions.
Amazon, perhaps rattled by the growing solidarity, appears to have been running extensive social media ads about how much its workers love working there.
For more information about the Make Amazon Pay campaign, visit makeamazonpay.com
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