Dear Amazon workers everywhere:
We are leaders of global labor unions, together we represent more than 247 million workers around the world.
We write to thank you for the services you are providing to your communities during this crisis. We know that many of you are taking real risks to provide for yourselves and your families and to make it possible for a package to land on someone’s doorstep.
Indeed, Amazon is not doing enough to protect you or the public from COVID-19. Workers across the world have tested positive in Amazon warehouses and throughout the company’s transport and delivery network and unless there are real changes in the operation of the business, warehouses will continue to present a risk of contagion not only for workers but also for the community.
Many of you are also taking a risk by standing up to Amazon and demanding more: more disclosure about who is infected: more PPEs, more time to get your job done and to wash your hands and more cleaning of the warehouses when workers test positive and more pay to compensate for the hazard.
One person who stood up to demand more, Christopher Smalls, was immediately fired by Amazon in the US and then called “inarticulate” in an internal company memo. Christopher is a hero and whistleblower who wants to do the right thing to protect us all. An insult to Christopher is an insult to all of us. Let it be clear that his brave act does not go unrecognized and that he is not alone.
Many workers around the US and the rest of the world are standing together. In Italy, Amazon workers went on strike for 11 days, they stood united and forced Amazon to make changes. In Spain and France, workers with their unions have fought back to slow the relentless pace of work, to ensure distancing and win other protections. This is democracy in action, and we want that for all Amazon workers.
Crisis can bring out the best in us and we are hopeful that this terrible moment will yield to a better one. Amazon’s focus is on making money for its shareholders, and not the least, for Jeff Bezos himself. As workers, our responsibility is for the safety and livelihood of our families and colleagues. Amazon workers are united, in our unions, in our cities, in our countries and indeed around the world - there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation and Chair of the Council of Global Unions
Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union