In a strike spanning across Europe on Friday, Amazon workers walked out in protest against the e-commerce giant’s exploitative working practices. The strike is happening on one of the busiest shopping days of the entire year, Black Friday. The strike, organized by the “Make Amazon Pay” initiative under the leadership of the UNI Global Union, unfolded across more than 30 countries, shedding light on the ongoing concerns related to workers’ rights and labor conditions.
Black Friday’s Shift from In-Store Chaos to Virtual Activism
Once synonymous with chaotic scenes in U.S. brick-and-mortar stores, Black Friday has evolved into a global online phenomenon. A significant player in this shift is Amazon, known for its extensive promotions. This year, the company advertised holiday discounts from November 17 to November 27, setting the stage for protests during one of the most hectic shopping periods.
Workers in Germany Raise Voices Against Exploitative Practices
According to a report by the Verdi trade union, around 2,000 workers participated in strikes across six Amazon fulfillment centers in Germany, Amazon’s second-largest market. Notably, the Rheinberg warehouse witnessed a substantial turnout, with 40% of its workforce, approximately 500 employees, joining the strike. Amazon contested these figures, asserting that only a small fraction of workers were involved and emphasized fair wages, starting at over 14 euros ($15.27) per hour.
U.K. Workers Rally for Fair Compensation and Better Conditions
Over 200 workers at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse in England voiced their concerns in a strike, fueling a long-standing dispute over pay. Among them was Nick Henderson, who emphasized the need for higher pay and improved working conditions. Amazon U.K. defended its position, citing minimum starting wage between 11.80 and 13 pounds per hour, with plans to increase to 12.30 to 13 pounds by April 2024, assuring customers that operations would remain unaffected.
Italy Witnesses Widespread Participation in Strikes Amid Discrepancies
In Italy, the CGIL trade union reported that over 60% of Amazon warehouse workers in Castel San Giovanni participated in the strike. Amazon countered, stating that more than 86% of its workforce reported to work, and operations remained unimpacted. These conflicting reports underscore the situation’s complexity, with workers expressing discontent.
Spain Plans One-Hour Strikes on “Cyber Monday” to Amplify Voices
The Spanish union CCOO called for Amazon workers in warehouses and delivery services to stage one-hour strikes on each shift during the upcoming “Cyber Monday.” This move adds to the mounting pressure on Amazon as workers globally unite to push for improved labor conditions and fair treatment.
France Protests Target Amazon Parcel Lockers as Symbol of Consumerism
In France, the anti-globalization organization Attac reported that Amazon’s parcel lockers were adorned with posters and barricade tape as part of their protest against Black Friday’s consumerism. Attac, critical of the event as a “celebration of overproduction and over consumption,” targeted 40 lockers nationwide. Amazon maintained that all lockers in France remained accessible despite the protest.
Amazon’s Continued Popularity Amidst Employee Discontent
Despite the growing discontent among workers and protests against Amazon’s working practices, the e-commerce giant remains highly popular in Europe. Data from October revealed that Amazon’s app boasted 146 million active users in Europe, overshadowing rivals Shein and Temu with 64 million and 51 million users, respectively, according to data.ai.