Amazon workers have staged protests and strikes in several European countries, accusing company of poor working conditions. The protesters claim the company treats them like “robots,” citing bad safety record and low wages.
The strike hit the largest Amazon facility in Spain, the warehouse in San Fernando de Henares near Madrid. The protesters gathered outside the building, displaying banners, chanting slogans, and inciting co-workers to walk off and join them. Some participants wore shirts reading “Amazon, not only Fridays are black.”
“We are striking here because of poor working conditions,” CGT Union member Moises Fernandez told Ruptly. “We are losing professional categories, we are losing occupational groups, they don’t ensure us any wage guarantee.”
According to the unions, between 85 and 90 percent of staff at the company’s warehouse have joined in the strike. Amazon disputed the claims, however, saying that the majority of employees were actually inside, processing orders.
Workers are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances.
— GMB UNION (@GMB_union) November 23, 2018
Protests held at five locations across Britain were spearheaded by the GMB Union. Protesters put emphasis on the apparently poor safety record at the Amazon’s warehouses, claiming that ambulances were called there a whopping 600 times. The UK protests were dubbed “Amazon, we’re not robots.”
Proud to join @GMB_union in solidarity with Amazon workers at #Amazon Rugeley tonight. Amazon workers must be treated with respect & dignity. They must have proper health & safety & union recognition. These are absolute basic rights pic.twitter.com/GTSH1TiWAk
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) November 23, 2018
“The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman. They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances,” general secretary of the GMB union Tim Roache said in a statement. “Enough is enough. Time these workers were treated like humans, not robots.”
"Solidarity forever: the union makes us strong" Trade unionists protest outside facility in Rugeley where workers are telling @amazon #WeAreNotRobots it's time to respect workers rights #HuelgaAmazon @GMB_union pic.twitter.com/H9qVoPNGHs
— War on Want (@WarOnWant) November 23, 2018
In Germany, workers walked off the job at Amazon facilities in Rheinberg and Bad Hersfeld, led by the ver.di union, which higher pay and a collective bargaining agreement for the company’s employees.
“Employees currently have to fill up the shelves for the Christmas business as well as send thousands of Black Friday offers. This results in a lot of overtime, which is paid much worse than is the case with companies subject to collective bargaining,” said Silke Zimmer, head of the ver.di regional trade department in North Rhine-Westphalia, as quoted by Deutsche Welle.
Amazon has faced numerous allegations of maintaining an awful working atmosphere at their facilities. Back in 2017, a journalist for the Daily Mirror went undercover at one of the company’s warehouses, claiming that workers were treated like “animals” or “slaves,” being forced to work long shifts until they literally collapsed.
It has also been alleged that the daily work targets at the company were so strict, the employees were forced to urinate in bottles as leaving the workplace even for a moment was a sure way to miss them. Others claimed that the company “arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside” some of its warehouses in the summertime instead of installing proper air conditioning.
The company, however, has repeatedly denied the accusations, claiming that their warehouses were perfectly safe places to work.