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#MakeAmazonPay: Workers and unions call Amazon to account on Black Friday

news 27 Nov 2020

As customers around the world log on to make the most of Black Friday deals, workers and unions are mobilising to demand that Amazon and other e-commerce giants pay their fair share.

In a year marred by Covid-19, working people have faced mounting challenges in the form of pay losses, job cuts and increased health and safety risks. For some, however, the pandemic has been good business. This year Amazon’s value has moved into the trillions of dollars, while founder Jeff Bezos has become the first person in history to amass $200 billion in personal wealth.

“Amazon is both one of the biggest players in the global economy and a rogue outlier. While workers, businesses and governments have historically cooperated to build a fairer society, Amazon is busy shredding that good work in its blind pursuit of profit at any cost,” said Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary.

“This Black Friday the ITF has joined the international worker-activist coalition calling on Mr Bezos to turn the corner and for Amazon to meet their responsibilities as a global citizen. This isn’t misinformed, self-interested groups using Amazon’s profile to further their individual causes as an Amazon spokesperson said today, this is workers, climate and tax activists saying Amazon takes too much and gives back too little,” said Cotton.

The new Make Amazon Pay coalition is calling for a comprehensive overhaul of the company’s approach to workers, communities and the environment (see Common Demands).

Amazon presides over an empire of labour exploitation and violations across multiple sectors, including its transport supply chains. For example, an exposé published in the Guardian in September uncovered the predatory business models and the subcontracting chains of exploitation of the logistics companies that deliver for Amazon. This exclusive followed the release of a report by VNB, ITF and IUF that documented wage theft, discrimination, sexual harassment and dangerous working conditions that drivers have been forced to endure across Europe during the pandemic

At the same time, in the midst of the global crew-change crisis, Amazon has so far failed to cooperate in preventing forced labour among the seafarers transporting its goods. 400,000 seafarers are now stranded at sea on floating prisons while they keep the global economy moving. This week, the International Chamber of Shipping alongside other shipping bodies published an open letter to Mr Bezos calling on him to make Amazon’s business conduct responsible.

In response to the mistreatment of workers and harmful practices at the heart of Amazon’s business model that drive inequality, climate breakdown and democratic decay, workers, activists and supporters from Brazil, Mexico, US, UK, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Poland, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Australia are taking part in the global day of action.

“We are proud to join our sisters, brothers and friends around the world today to demand that Amazon pays its workers fairly, respects their rights, pays its fair share of taxes and actively commits to real action to avert the climate crisis. We congratulate UNI Global and Progressive International for leading this movement. Our strength in solidarity is what will Make Amazon Pay, and we invite you to join us in this fight,” said Cotton.

Visit and join us.