For Amazon in Italy and Germany, Black Friday really could be a dark day. Workers at Amazon’s largest “fulfilment centres” in Italy and German have decided to take strike action. Amazon employees in both countries are calling on the company to respect their workers by engaging in social dialogue and providing a safe and healthy workplace.
Black Friday, which is traditionally the day after American Thanksgiving and one of the busiest shopping days of the year, is also one of the busiest times of the year for E-Commerce giants Amazon. Whilst the company reaps the rewards, with an estimated 1.66 billion dollars on Black Friday, Amazon’s workers suffer. For the company, Black Friday represents huge profits – for workers, it means painfully heavy workloads, long hours and unfair financial remuneration.
Trade unions around the world are taking a stand Amazon for better working conditions and remunerations after a long list of health and safety issues. There has been a huge increase in the volume and speed of work over the years, and employees are being worked increasingly harder and longer, with overtime, night shifts and Sunday shifts not being properly remunerated.
“Workers at Amazon are suffering from physical and mental exhausation. With a combination of constant performance monitoring, exacting management practice, insufficient recovery time and relentless pressure, Amazon is an unhealthy place to work,” said UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings. “Amazon are the ugly face of digi-capitalism.”
“Amazon’s anti-union stance must change – they have to engage with their workers. They cannot ignore the serious health and safety challenges their workers face any longer. We fully support German and Italian workers in their decision to strike on Black Friday for the dignity and respect they deserve.”
“Work life at Amazon can be physically and mentally brutal,” said Head of UNI Commerce Mathias Bolton. “Muscle problems, joint problems and the mental exhaustion that comes with constant surveillance are all part-and-parcel of working for Amazon.”
“We are in full solidarity with Amazon workers on strike in Germany and Italy on Black Friday.”
“Amazon permanently endangers the health of its employees with its way of working,” said Stefanie Nutzberger, Federal Board Member of Ver.di. “High pressure to work harder and faster, permanent performance controls, poor leadership and inadequate recovery times are health hazards which are severely impacting Amazon workers.”
“Illness and disease rates at Amazon are way above the industry average, and engaging with workers could help to address the serious workplace issues facing employees.”
Staff at Amazon in Italy also agreed not to accept any overtime from now until after Christmas – the busiest time of the year – unless management engage with the union on pay rises that match Amazon’s growth in Italy.
Amazon employs around 4,000 people at the Piacenza site and 10,000 around Germany.