In what’s being hailed as the “biggest ever global strike against Amazon,” workers and supporters across the globe stood united this Black Friday, striking against the retail giant’s notorious practices. From the warehouses of Coventry to the manufacturing hubs of Dhaka, employees took a stand against Amazon’s harsh working conditions, inadequate pay, aggressive anti-union tactics, tax evasion, and environmental negligence.
This international day of action, part of the “Make Amazon Pay” campaign, is not new but has grown exponentially each year. It reflects a burgeoning movement, determined to demand justice from the $1.5 trillion corporation. Christy Hoffman, the general secretary of UNI Global Union, underscored the unity in this fight, stating that workers worldwide, irrespective of their job titles or countries, are rallying for higher wages, reasonable work quotas, and a stronger voice at work.
The strikes and protests, taking place in over 30 countries, are a powerful statement against Amazon’s empire. Varsha Gandikota-Nellutla, the co-general coordinator of Progressive International, emphasized that the actions represent a global declaration against exploitation and abuse.
In the UK, the struggle has been particularly intense at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse, where about 1,000 employees have joined the GMB union. Despite facing a corporation notoriously hostile to labor organizations, these workers have not backed down, even after Amazon’s paltry pay raises amidst soaring inflation. They have conducted 28 days of strikes this year, showcasing their determination.
The battle extends to the U.S. as well, despite recent setbacks in union drives in Alabama and New York. Following the significant union victory at Staten Island, Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, highlighted the global day of action as a testament to the growing challenge against Amazon’s unfair labor practices.
UNI Global Union’s recent survey further exposes Amazon’s detrimental practices, with employees suffering physically and mentally due to intrusive productivity monitoring and low compensation. A U.S. Amazon driver’s words, “I feel like I’m drowning all day,” painfully illustrate the human cost of Amazon’s business model.
Amazon, predictably, downplays the impact of the strikes and continues to claim that it offers competitive pay and benefits. However, Amanda Gearing, a senior organizer with GMB, counters this narrative, emphasizing that this Black Friday marks the most significant day of industrial disruption in Amazon’s history.
This global movement against Amazon’s practices is not just a fight for fair labor standards but a struggle for the dignity and rights of workers worldwide. As workers unite across borders, their collective voice grows stronger, challenging a corporate giant and advocating for a sustainable, equitable future.