Trade unions and progressive movements across the world unite to #MakeAmazonPay

During the pandemic, Amazon emerged as the first trillion-dollar corporation ever while its CEO Jeff Bezos became the first person to amass over USD 200 billion. Meanwhile, its workers across the world have complained of denial of rights

November 28, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Garment workers protest against Amazon in Bangladesh.

A global coalition of progressive movements and trade unions staged a massive scale boycott campaign of Amazon on the annual Black Friday sales day, that fell on Friday, November 27. The coalition held an organized global campaign in as many as 15 countries that constitute the bulk of Amazon’s customer base, under the banner of #MakeAmazonPay. Dozens of international and national trade union movements, trade justice groups, environmentalist organizations, and progressive political movements participated in the campaign.

A number of trade unions and trade unions confederations took part, including the GMB Union in the United Kingdom, Ver.di in Germany, IndustriAll, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), UNI Global Union, Amazon Workers International, and Public Services International (PSI) among others. Several of these groups and their national and regional affiliates also organized walk-out strikes on Friday.

Groups such as the Progressive International, the pan-European Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, All India IT and ITeS Employees’ Union from India, Momentum from the United Kingdom, the Athena Coalition from the United States, along with advocacy groups like the Workings Peoples’ Charter, Focus on the Global South, IT for Change and the Transnational Institute were also part of organizing it.

In their campaign statement, the organizers pointed out how despite reaping huge profits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company continues to evade taxes. “But instead of giving back to the societies that helped it grow, the corporation starves them of tax revenue. In 2019, Amazon paid just 1.2% tax in the United States, where the corporation holds its headquarters.”

“As Amazon’s corporate empire expands, so too has its carbon footprint, which is larger than two thirds of all countries in the world. But instead of giving back to the societies that helped it grow, the corporation starves them of tax revenue,” the statement reads.

During the pandemic, Amazon emerged as the first trillion-dollar corporation in human history, while its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos became the first person to amass over USD 200 billion worth of wealth.

In the meanwhile, the corporation has been accused by workers across the world of vehemently denying its over 876,000 employees fair compensation. “Amazon warehouse workers risked their lives as essential workers, and faced threats and intimidation if they spoke out for their rights to a fair wage,” added the campaign.

In an article in the Guardian, Casper Gelderblom, coordinator of the #MakeAmazonPay campaign at the Progressve International, wrote, “While Bezos’s [Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos] wealth has risen by more than $70bn (£52bn) since the onset of the pandemic, Amazon workers have put their health at risk daily with only marginal increases in pay. The corporation is said to monitor its warehouse workers, sanctions them whenever their productivity drops and has spied on their efforts to organize. The result: claims that workers have been forced to urinate in bottles for lack of adequate break-time (Amazon has disputed such claims), thousands of Covid infections and claims of inadequate worker protections. Bezos could pay each of his 876,000 employees a $105,000 (£79,000) bonus – and still be as obscenely rich as he was before the pandemic broke out.”

The campaign was also backed by prominent political leaders and activists across the globe.

 

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