Workers organize global day of action for #MakeAmazonPay
Claiming that workers – not CEO Jeff Bezos – are the engines of Amazon’s success, workers at the world’s largest online retailer joined forces with progressive activists on Wednesday to hold a global day of solidarity and action for #MakeAmazonPay.
“Workers, not Bezos, make the world of Amazon go round. All over the world, workers who produce Amazon’s profits are standing up to claim their rights.”
From Bangladesh to Britain and countries on five continents, more than 50 advocacy groups led by UNI Global Union and Progressive International have traveled to support Amazon’s supply chain personnel – including workers warehouses, delivery and clothing – many of which suffer from unpaid wages and poor working conditions. and the fight against unions.
The day of action came as Amazon held its annual meeting of shareholders.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon grew into a trillion dollar corporation, with CEO Jeff Bezos becoming the first person in history to raise $ 200 billion in personal wealth,” the Make Amazon coalition said Pay on its website. “Meanwhile, Amazon warehouse workers risked their lives as essential workers and faced threats and intimidation if they stood up for their rights to a fair wage.
BREAKDOWN: As Amazon holds its annual meeting of shareholders, workers participate in a global day of solidarity with Amazon suppliers in Bangladesh and Cambodia – 20 actions in 10 countries on 5 continents under one banner: #MakeAmazonPay All * Its workers. https://t.co/HPy7pTHICt
– Progressive International (@ProgIntl) May 26, 2021
“As Amazon’s corporate empire grows, its carbon footprint, which is greater than two-thirds of all countries in the world, is also increasing,” the coalition continued. “But instead of giving back to the companies that helped it grow, the company is depriving them of tax revenue. In 2019, Amazon only paid 1.2% tax in the United States, where the company owns his seat.”
“The pandemic has revealed how Amazon puts profits before workers, society and our planet,” he added. “Amazon takes too much and gives too little.”
In Bangladesh, unionized garment workers sacked from the factory of supplier Amazon Global Garments last October demanded the reopening of the closed factory and the rehiring of its 1,200 unionized workers with back wages.
“The closure of the factory has taken away our means to survive,” said Rinta Barua, who worked in the factory for 20 years but says she is now blacklisted for her work organization. “I’ve been trying to find a new job for over six months. But since I was a union leader at Global Garments, no one in the industry will hire me.
Workers like Barua in 1,400 factories around the world have been instrumental in making Amazon the # 1 fashion retailer in the United States. Yet despite this, and despite the 84% increase in net profit the company enjoyed last year, workers say Amazon and its suppliers are changing them.
In Cambodia, Amazon supplier Hulu Garment suspended all of its 1,020 workers at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Employees say they were forced to quit their jobs and severance pay, which Progressive International says is $ 3.6 million.
“I have two children and elderly parents who depend on me,” said Yi Sokunthea, who worked at Hulu Garment for 15 years before the layoffs. “I had to cut my daily expenses by 50%. I had to take my children out of school for a while ”.
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In Europe – where tax returns recently revealed that Amazon paid no corporate taxes on record sales of nearly $ 53 billion during the pandemic – protests took place in several countries on Wednesday. Activists in Luxembourg, home of Amazon’s European headquarters, “honored” Bezos with a “Dead Planet Award” (pdf) in absentia for “destroying workers’ rights and the environment”.
In Britain, activists gathered outside Lincoln Cathedral to denounce the fight against Amazon unions. Protesters called on the company to respect union rights around the world, noting that it was spending $ 10,000 a day on anti-union consultants during the recent attempt to unionize Alabama Amazon warehouse workers.
“Whether in the UK, Cambodia, Bangladesh or the US, Amazon is associated with anti-union tactics and mistreatment,” said Sharon Graham, managing director of Unite, Britain’s largest union. Lincolnite. “It’s time for Amazon shareholders to demand action to provide better rights for Amazon workers.”
“Workers and social justice activists are in a battle with Amazon globally to protect workers’ rights,” Graham added. “This is a battle that we are determined to win, the alternative is to continue the global race to the bottom.”
Casper Gelderblom, Progressive International’s coordinator for the Make Amazon Pay campaign, said: “Amazon is the most powerful company in the world and its CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man on the planet. of the work of hundreds of people. of thousands of workers around the world. “
“The workers make the product you buy, package it for you, and deliver it to your home,” Gelderblom said. “Workers, not Bezos, make the world of Amazon go round. All over the world, workers who produce Amazon’s profits are standing up to claim their rights.”
“Throughout its supply chain, Amazon refuses to pay workers the respect and wages they deserve,” Gelderblom added. “Loud and clear, Amazon’s producers, distributors, and delivery people are telling Jeff Bezos: Pay your employees.”
Bezos announced Wednesday that he will officially step down as CEO of Amazon on July 5, when longtime Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy takes over.
UNI Global Union Secretary General Christy Hoffman said, “Ultimately, making Amazon pay is part of a much larger fight to win another world. One in which global trade channels are not geared toward the wealth and power of billionaires and shareholders, but toward the health. and happiness of the hard-working people who run it. “