Make Amazon Pay: from the streets to the European Parliament

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Calls to hold Amazon to account have been growing across Europe. UNI Europa recently participated in a string of actions that have set out a path for EU action.

The #MakeAmazonPay campaign global call to action saw actions take place across Europe and the world. In Brussels, UNI Europa was joined by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Agnes Jongerius, Leïla Chaibi, Marianne Vind and Estrella Durá as well as ETUC and Progressive International. The demonstration took place in front of Amazon’s corporate lobby headquarters for the EU.

A growing number of dedicated MEPs are backing the workers. On 27 May, the Employment Committee of the European Parliament held a hearing on the Amazon attacks on fundamental workers’ rights and freedoms: freedom of assembly and association and the right to collective bargain and action (full recording here).

Orhan Akman, of Verdi union exposed a number of the corporations’ abuses. He noted that “the company policy at Amazon is characterized by an aggressive strategy of internal control, which also includes repeated profiling and data protection violations.”

The fact that Amazon refused to send any executive representative illustrates the depths of the corporation’s contempt for democratic process. Workers are all too keenly aware of this, given the corporation’s systematic suppression of democracy at work.

UNI Europa also participated in a pre-hearing event with the S&D group in the European Parliament. At the event, UNI Europa Regional Secretary Oliver Roethig outlined what was needed, saying “let’s start by cracking down on the anti-union, surveillance-driven workplace at Amazon with meaningful reforms.”

These actions shed light on Amazon’s practices and the consensus with which all MEPs called out the corporation’s abusive labour practices was encouraging. The next step is to establish solutions to addressing the abuse. UNI will be releasing a study on Amazon’s surveillance at work next month with policy recommendations for protecting working people.

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