After Amazon lobby ban, UNI coordinated MEPs visiting workers and trade unions in four countries

25.04.24

Commerce

Amazon

At the initiative of the S&D group in the European Parliament, UNI Europa, the European Services Workers Union, coordinated a Europe-wide Amazon action day to share the stories of Amazon workers.

After Amazon lobby ban, UNI coordinated MEPs visiting workers and trade unions in four countries

On 12 April 2024, S&D MEPs met with Amazon workers and trade union representatives in Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands to hear first-hand stories of employees and to discuss how to empower them so they can stand up to Amazon’s exploitation and abuses.

The Group’s employment and social affairs spokesperson Agnes Jongerius went to Almelo, vice-presidents Gaby Bischoff and Marc Angel as well as Udo Bullmann to Frankfurt, Iban García del Blanco to Madrid, and Brando Benifei to Milan.

They pledged to take further steps to make the multinational pay decent wages and respect workers’ rights. Amazon must fully respect European rules and values if they want to make a profit in Europe. This includes stopping Amazon’s anti-unionism, preventing abuse of AI and surveillance in the workplace and making public contracts going to Amazon conditional on the company engaging in collective bargaining.

As a worker at one of the meetings testified: “As long as Amazon thinks it can act with impunity and fears no consequences, nothing will change.”

In February, members of the European Parliament banned Amazon lobbyists from freely entering the Parliament after the company refused to participate in a parliamentary hearing and cancelled the official visit of parliamentarians to observe working conditions in its warehouses.

Oliver Roethig, UNI Europa Regional Secretary, said:

“After Amazon refused to face democratic scrutiny by members of the European Parliament, they barred their lobbyists from the Parliament’s premises. Now, we are glad to see the parliamentarians go a step further: if Amazon is not willing to come to the European Parliament, MEPs will go directly to meet with workers and their trade union representatives.

“In an action day across four European countries, coordinated by UNI Europa, the parliamentarians have heard about how the European Union can support their fight against Amazon’s anti-unionism and for good working conditions and pay.”

Agnes Jongerius, S&D spokesperson for employment and social affairs, said:

“While Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos, who has recently reclaimed the title of the richest person on earth, is busy conquering space, its workers struggle to meet inhumane performance targets in abhorrent conditions for meagre pay. We have heard horrible cases of exploitation from workers’ testimonies when they talked to us in the Parliament in January. The least Amazon must do is fully respect workers’ rights – abiding by European rules and values.

“We demand that Amazon stop exploiting workers and bogus self-employed, and in particular stop using massive surveillance and AI to abuse employees and invade their privacy. Furthermore, Amazon must respect the European social model and trade unions, which means engaging in collective bargaining, especially if the company wants to keep receiving public contracts. We will keep fighting to make union busting a crime and to clamp down on Amazon’s attempts at disrupting and weakening trade unions.”

The action day coordinated by UNI Europa was covered across English, German, Italian and Dutch media.

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