As Amazon (AMZN) gears up for its annual Prime Day discount-shopping bonanza, its workers in the US and the EU are planning a series of strikes and protests over salaries and unsafe working conditions at Amazon’s fulfilment centres.
In the UK, the GMB Union has called on workers to protest on Monday at Amazon warehouses across the country. “The conditions our members work under at Amazon sites across the UK are appalling,” said Mick Rix, GMB National Officer in a press statement.
“The Rugeley site in particular is probably one of the most unsafe places to work in Britain — workers are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious, and being taken away in ambulances,” Rix said.
The GMB said that there have been a number of reports of pregnant women being targeted for dismissal. The union is demanding that Amazon acknowledge the issues and meet to talk about how to increase safety at the centres.
“Amazon workers want Jeff Bezos to know they are people — not robots.” Rix said. “It's time for him to show empathy with the very people that have helped to contribute to his vast and increasing personal fortune.”
In Germany, Amazon workers went on strike late Sunday night over wages.
Germany’s powerful Verdi union called the strike, under the motto “No more discount on our incomes” at seven Amazon cites. Verdi said the strike could last two days.
“While Amazon fuels bargain hunting on Prime Day with hefty discounts, employees are being deprived of a living wage,” Verdi retail spokesman Orhan Akman said in a statement. He added that: “Wages and salaries at Amazon must no longer be determined in the style of a lord of the manor.”
Verdi has been pressuring Amazon to agree to a collective wage agreement, in tune with other companies in the retail and mail order sectors for many years now. Amazon employs around 13,000 staff at 11 fulfilment centres and 12 storage warehouses in Germany.
Warehouse workers at the Amazon fulfilment centre in Shakopee, Minnesota are planning a six-hour walkout on Tuesday, Prime Day itself. It is not expected to have much of an effect on Amazon; strike organiser William Stolz said that the aim is to put pressure on Amazon “to protect us and provide safe, reliable jobs.”