Amazon Workers Plan Global Black Friday Strike Demanding Better Wages And Tax Accountability

Amazon Inc

Amazon employees worldwide are planning to strike on one of the busiest shopping days of the year

The strikes are set to take place at factories, warehouses, data centers, corporate offices and oil refineries across the world, including sites in Minnesota, California, Boston and New York City. The plan is to organize the work stoppage for Black Friday in more than 20 countries including India, Germany and the U.S.

Workers and activists are expected to protest as part of a campaign led by “Make Amazon Pay,” a coalition of 70 trade unions and organizations including Greenpeace, Oxfam, and Amazon Workers International.

Individuals everywhere “from oil refineries, to factories, to warehouses, to data centers, to corporate offices” are expected to participate in the November 26 event, according to the campaign.

Make Amazon Pay is organizing the Black Friday protests to demand the retail giant raise wages, pay more taxes and reduce its carbon footprint, according to its website.

“The pandemic has exposed how Amazon places profits ahead of workers, society, and our planet,” Make Amazon Pay wrote in a list of demands shared on its website. “Amazon takes too much and gives back too little. It is time to Make Amazon Pay.”

Make Amazon Pay published a list of 25 demands on its website that include raising wages and extending paid sick leave, offering unions access to Amazon worksites, committing to zero emissions by 2030 and paying taxes in full by “ending tax abuse through profit shifting, loopholes and the use of tax havens, and providing full tax transparency.”

Make Amazon Pay’s demands also include better job security, and “suspending the harsh productivity and surveillance regime Amazon has used to squeeze workers.”

Pay Back To Society

The coalition also calls for a “pay back to society” that includes enhanced sustainability efforts, increased transparency over data and privacy, and ending partnerships with police forces and immigration authorities that are “institutionally racist.”

A Failed System

“Amazon is not alone in these bad practices but it sits at the heart of a failed system that drives the inequality, climate breakdown, and democratic decay that scar our age,” Make Amazon Pay wrote in its demands.

The trillion-dollar company and its founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos, have recently come under fire for a myriad of issues. The company faces a number of antitrust investigations from a number of entities, including regulators in the U.S., Canada and the European Union, and is frequently accused of overworking its employees while offering inadequate wages. U.S. President Joe Biden and others have also criticized the amount of taxes the company pays.

Bezos acknowledged in an April letter to shareholders that Amazon needs “to do a better job for our employees.”

Despite the pushback, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has helped Bezos become the first person in history with a net worth surpassing $200 billion.

The group’s demands are split into five categories: workplace improvements, job security, respect for workers’ rights, sustainable operations and paying back society. Workplace improvements include improving pay, adding hazard pay, providing adequate break time, extending paid sick leave and disclosing COVID-19 protocols.

For job security, the group wants the end of forms of casual employment and contractors while reinstating employees fired for organizing protests. Respecting workers’ rights focuses primarily on allowing employees to form a union and for Amazon to not conduct union-busting tactics.

Amazon says it has already made headway on these demands.

“These groups represent a variety of interests, and while we are not perfect in any area, if you objectively look at what Amazon is doing in each one of these areas you will see that we do take our role and our impact very seriously,” Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement Wednesday.

Nantel did not say how the protests would affect holiday shoppers.

Last year, there was a similar call for a workers’ strike on Black Friday after Amazon’s sales rose sharply during the COVID pandemic.

The protests come amid growing dissent from Amazon employees over working conditions, including long hours, low pay, and complex performance review systems.

Union-busting Tactics

The rise of Make Amazon Pay also follows a fraught push for unionization across the company, including most recently at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island which filed for a union vote last month. The e-commerce giant became embroiled in controversy earlier this year after reports surfaced that it allegedly participated in union-busting tactics that may have thwarted a vote at a warehouse in Alabama.

As part of the Make Amazon Pay effort, the campaign also accused Amazon of dodging taxes. According to a ProPublica report published in June, its founder Jeff Bezos did not pay any income taxes between 2006 and 2018. He is currently the richest person in the world with a net worth of $210.7 billion.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon became a trillion dollar corporation, with Bezos becoming the first person in history to amass $200 billion in personal wealth,” Make Amazon Pay wrote on its website. “Meanwhile, Amazon warehouse workers risked their lives as essential workers, and only briefly received an increase in pay.”

Make Amazon Pay was first formed in 2020 and has since helped drive a series of strikes and protests against company policies, particularly as unrest mounted during the pandemic.

“Amazon’s wealth has increased so much during the pandemic that its owners could pay all 1.3 million of its employees a $690,000 COVID bonus and still be as rich as they were in 2020,” a video states on the Make Amazon Pay website.

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