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WORKERS worldwide walked out of Amazon warehouses today in protest over pay and conditions during the company’s Prime Day.
Prime Day is a two-day promotion for Amazon subscribers offering discounts, sales deals and same-day shipping, pushing workers to intense limits.
Employees at the company’s centre in Minnesota, US, took a six-hour strike action on the first day of the promotion, along with staff at seven warehouses in Germany, Spain, Poland and Britain.
Unions of Amazon workers in European countries have staged strikes on Prime Days in the past, but the walkout in Minnesota represents the first major action of its kind in the US.
UNI Global Union, a Switzerland-based union co-ordinating Amazon workers and their unions, president Stuart Appelaum said the company “needs to understand that human beings are not robots.”
War on Want executive director Asad Rehman called the company’s “unchecked” growth a “threat to everyone’s rights.”
He said: “There is a litany of abuses associated with Amazon business practices, from harassment of workers to unsafe conditions in its warehouses, that stretch right through to its tax affairs.
“Unless our politicians step up, this company that fails to pay its fair share of tax, and fails to treat its workers with respect or pay a living wage, will continue to grow and dominate the global economy in the 21st century. It’s not the future that workers or the public want.”
Mr Rehman said that workers and communities are coming together, taking action across the world to demand that “this engine of inequality” change its ways, adding that “there is nothing modern about exploitation.”
“It is people power that will force Amazon to give back to the communities where it operates, and ensure that the rise of digital companies results in benefits to the societies in which they operate instead of producing gross inequality where a few are made grotesquely rich while others have their basic rights at work denied or earn less than a living wage,” he said.
Amazon’s global sales for Prime Day are expected to hit $5.8 billion (over £4.3 billion) over the two days, having generated $3.9 billion (£3.11 billion) last year, according to London-based research group Coresight.
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