Amazon employees across parts of Europe are striking and protesting what they describe as dangerous work conditions and anti-union tactics. The protests coincide with Black Friday, one of the busiest and most stressful days of the year for workers in retail.
Amazon employees in the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain participated in the strike. Workers cited comparatively low pay, hazardous work environments, and unreasonable performance expectations as among their reasons for protesting.
Andreja Schmidtkunz, a German Amazon worker and member of the union ver.di, said in a statement that some workers had undergone multiple surgeries after joining the company. Schmidtkunz added: “You start at the company healthy and leave it as a broken human.” Several employees also described experiencing physical pain or injury on the job.
A protester in Spain wears a Jeff Bezos mask. (Photo: Anna Oman Mejia/Gizmodo)
“Amazon is a fair and responsible employer. We believe in continuous improvement across our network and maintain an open and direct dialogue with our associates,” the company said in a statement. “We provide safe and positive working conditions, and encourage anyone to come see for themselves by taking a tour at one of our fulfilment centres.”
Workers have raised concerns about unfair pay and poor working conditions at the company for years, with some claiming in the past they’ve even had to skip toilet breaks to keep their jobs and were pressured to not report injuries. Amazon also has a track record of being anti-union, a position that Christy Hoffman, the General Secretary of UNI Global Union, said in a statement was both “dangerous” and a violation of workers’ rights.
“By not addressing workers’ concerns, hazards remain, and the injuries continue,” Hoffman said. “Next-day delivery should not mean a lifetime of pain for Amazon workers.”