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ITF Statement in support of Amazon workers, Bessemer Alabama

news 16 Apr 2021

Last week, the US Federal Government announced that Amazon workers in Alabama did not achieve a majority in the union election at its facility in Bessemer.

Amazon’s aggressive anti-union campaign and tactics to interfere in the vote will be scrutinized by the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union announced it is filing objections and related Unfair Labor Practice charges to hold Amazon accountable for its obstruction of a free and fair election.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation today stands shoulder to shoulder with Amazon workers in Bessemer and the RWDSU, and in full support of the statement issued by the Global Unions’ Committee on Workers’ Capital (CWC) today calling on Amazon to cease its anti-union campaign.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and CWC co-chair, reiterated the risks for Amazon investors of failures to respect workers’ fundamental labour rights at its facilities highlighted by the CWC statement. 

“Amazon workers and the RWDSU have exposed Amazon’s union busting, intimidation, coercion and efforts to gaslight its workforce during the Bessemer union election. Amazon’s ‘victory’ has exposed the company’s abusive practices especially abuse of workers’ fundamental right to freedom of association,” said Crumlin.

“Amazon’s union-busting is out of step with growing regulatory requirements and investor asks that require global companies to show how they are respecting human rights, including labour rights, throughout their operations and supply chains,” added Crumlin.

Amazon has publicly stated its duty to respect and uphold internationally recognized human rights and ethical treatment of its workforce, but its actions plainly conflict with those pledges and the company’s commitment to abide by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, core Conventions of the ILO, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Pension funds and global asset managers should be concerned that Amazon has not honoured its existing commitments to these agreements,” said Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary. “We have no doubt that responsible pension funds will be evaluating whether Amazon complies with their own commitments to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ILO Conventions and internal labour principles. As part of this approach to meaningful human rights due diligence, we call on all investors to use their engagement with Amazon to press the company to change its behaviour.”