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Amazon faces Black Friday protests, strikes in 40 countries

Olivia Solon, Agatha Cantrill and Benoit Berthelot, Bloomberg News on

Published in Business News

In the U.K., workers associated with GMB union have planned protests outside several warehouses, including Coventry.

“Amazon workers in Coventry are overworked, underpaid and they’ve had enough,” said Amanda Gearing, a senior GMB organizer, adding that “hundreds” will assemble to demand a wage increase from £10.50 an hour to £15.

Any workers who walk out during a shift could lose out on the second half of a £500 bonus that Amazon announced for U.K. warehouse workers last month. The final payment is contingent on staff taking “no unauthorized absence” between Nov. 22 and Dec. 24. The GMB has said linking payments to attendance could be interpreted as unlawful inducement not to strike.

In the U.S., protests and rallies will take place in more than 10 cities and outside an apartment block on 5th Avenue, New York, where Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has a condo. Multiple rallies are also planned in India while in Japan, members of a recently created union will protest in front of the company’s national headquarters in Tokyo. In Bangladesh, garment workers in Amazon’s supply chain will march in Dhaka and Chittagong.

Some demonstrations will focus on Amazon’s environmental and social footprint, for example in Ireland where people will gather outside the company’s Dublin offices to push back against two new planned data centers in the city. In South Africa, protesters will gather near Amazon’s new offices in Cape Town, which is being developed on land that indigenous people consider to be sacred.

 

Some unions expressed concern about the current economic climate amid a warning from Amazon that its peak Christmas season might not be as busy as usual. The company’s decision to lay off 10,000 staff will also make wage negotiations more challenging.

Laurent Cretin, a delegate for the CFE-CGC union in France, said the company will have 880 workers in a warehouse in Chalon-sur-Saône this Christmas season, down from 1,000 before COVID-19, which he linked to tightening consumer spending and the transfer of activity to robotized warehouses.

“The projections are not great, we are not sure we will do as good as last year that saw a post-Covid surge,” he said.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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