Amazon Workers Protest in India on Black Friday, Demand Fair Wages, Right to Join Unions
Amazon Workers in India organised protests across the country on Black Friday (November 24) as part of a global day of action called Make Amazon Pay.
The global protests were co-convened by UNI Global Union and Progressive International, bringing together over 80 unions, civil society organisations, environmentalists and tax watchdogs. The campaign demands Amazon to pay its workers fairly and respect their right to join unions. The campaign also demands that Amazon pay its fair share of taxes and commit to real environmental sustainability.
In India, Amazon workers protested in Mumbai, Patna, Varanasi, New Delhi, Kolkata, Aurangabad, Rishikesh, Agra, Bhopal and Kolhapur.
The workers especially highlight how Amazon's performance monitoring system affects their mental and physical well-being. As per the UNI Global Global Union Survey of Amazon Employees in eight countries, over 50% complained that the monitoring system negatively impacts their mental health (57%) and physical well-being (51%). Amazon was even cited by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration because its processes are "designed for speed, not safety."
As per one of the warehouse workers employed with Amazon India, "There is a lot of work pressure. We have shifts of 10 hours where we have to stand continuously to process 150 large items every hour: that's our hourly target. If we are not able to achieve our hourly targets, the PA (Process Assistant) and the PS (Problem Solver) often force us to resign or fire us. The targets are unachievable; we have to continuously work and miss/skip washroom breaks; sometimes, we are not allowed to use the washroom if we are behind on our targets. There is no resting space in the facility. We don't get breaks in between our shifts to rest or speak to anyone on the phone."
Amazon India workers demand an equal pay policy, a transition to zero-emission by 2030, realistic targets at work, compensation for accidents and protections for female employees, among other demands.
This is the fourth year that Amazon workers are protesting on Black Friday. Similar protests have been organised in the last three years, in which thousands of workers globally went on strike in countries such as Italy, France, and Germany. In Bangladesh, garment workers protested against Amazon policies.
On the occasion of Black Friday in 2023, protests and strikes are expected in around 30 countries.
"Workers know that it doesn't matter what country you're in or what your job title is, we are all united in the fight for higher wages, an end to unreasonable quotas, and a voice on the job," said Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union.
As per Reuters, Amazon warehouses in Germany and England saw strike action on Black Friday. Trade union Verdi estimated that "around 2,000 workers went on strike across six Amazon fulfilment centres in Germany." Amazon workers in England said that they were striking for "higher pay and better working conditions."
In Italy, trade union CGIL estimated that around 60% of Amazon workers in Castel San Giovanni participated in the strike action. Similarly, the Spanish union CCOO "called for Amazon warehouse and delivery workers to stage a one-hour strike on each shift on "Cyber Monday."
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