Amazon is setting up its first e-commerce sorting centre in the Netherlands. FNV, the country’s largest trade union, has sent an open letter to the corporation’s national CEO outlining its expectations.
“The Dutch have established a valuable tradition of consultation between employers and employees as well as a tradition of collective agreements on terms and conditions of employment,” reads the letter co-signed by FNV President, Tuur Elzinga, UNI Global Union General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, UNI Europa Regional Secretary, Oliver Roethig, as well as MEPs Agnes Jongerius and Kim van Sparrentak.
“We expect Amazon to look carefully into the Dutch labour market, to become familiar with the labour relations we have here, and to embrace the Dutch model,” they wrote.
Amazon is notorious for its attempts to dodge workers’ unions wherever it operates. Faced with the constant stress of having to meet unrealistically high production targets, a father and son tried to set up a union with CCOO in their warehouse in Valencia, Spain last month. Amazon fired them but now, the two workers are fighting back.
Similar stories of workers pushing back against the e-commerce giant are leading to improvements for workers across Europe. Following sustained pressure by workers and their union Verdi in Germany, Amazon raised its wages; in France, union strikes over unsafe conditions during the pandemic led to safer workplaces.
Amazon’s attempts to undermine workers’ collective bargaining rights is couples with an intrusive and all-encompassing Amazon worker surveillance systems, as highlighted in UNI’s recent Amazon Panopticon report. “This results in many unsafe situations and a great deal of stress in the workplace,” said MEP Kim van Sparrentak.
Prompted the EU Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs to call on Amazon to explain themselves. MEPs were angered by Amazon’s refusal to send anyone to answer their questions.“Amazon, you’ve been warned. In Europe, we respect regulation, we respect trade unions and we respect the rights of workers,” said MEP Agnes Jongerius.