Amazon workers in their thousands across the UK, France, Germany and Spain staged strikes and protest against working conditions in its warehouses this Black Friday.
On the busiest shopping day of the year for the ecommerce giant, Amazon staff and union members gathered outside its fulfilment centres across Europe to show the retailer that “they are people – not robots”.
Amazon has repeatedly denied that its warehouses are unsafe places to work and has ploughed significant sums of money into marketing campaigns to hammer home the point despite a near constant stream of reports across international media alleging the contrary.
A freezing dawn on #BlackFriday outside the Rugeley @amazon depot with the @GMB standing up for the rights of @amazon workers. One young man with his child nearly in tears just sacked. A 21st century company! More like a 19th century millowner. Shame on you, @JeffBezos pic.twitter.com/751vK7YFNY
— Jack Dromey MP (@JackDromeyMP) November 29, 2019
In the UK the GMB workers union said that hundreds of people gathered outside seven warehouses across the UK after “more than 600 ambulances call-outs” to in three years.
Amazon has strongly contested the figures put forward by the GMB, stating that claims “hundreds of people” gathered outside Amazon buildings was “simply not true”, adding that no Amazon workers took part in the protests.
“Self-interested critics, particularly unions, have a vested interest in spreading misinformation about Amazon but the facts tell a different story,” Amazon stated.
Meanwhile in Germany the Ver.di workers union said that 2200 people took part in demonstrations on Black Friday across six locations, while Spanish protestors gathered outside an Amazon pop-up in Madrid.
Scenes in France were more dramatic, with climate protestors in Lyon staging a sit-down protest clashing with riot police.
— ver.di Westfalen (@verdi_Westfalen) November 29, 2019
In Paris protestors also used hay bails, refrigerators, washing machines and stoves to block the entrance of Amazon fulfilment centres.
Despite a new initiative which invites the public to come and look around Amazon’s warehouses to see what working conditions are like for themselves, reports continue to emerge about the state of working conditions in its high-tech fulfilment centres.
Just last week a joint report from The Atlantic and Reveal from the Centre for Investigative Reporting made some of the most serious allegations yet, cataloguing a series of safety failings across fulfilment centres in the US and subsequent attempts to minimise liability for inujuries and even the death of a worker.