Amazon Hit By Strikes, Protests Across Europe During Black Friday Trade

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Amazon workers came out on strike at multiple locations across Europe on Friday as protests against the U.S. e-commerce giant’s working practices picked up pace on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

“Make Amazon Pay”, a global campaign coordinated by UNI Global Union, said strikes and protests would take place in more than 30 countries from so-called “Black” Friday through to Monday.

Many retailers slash prices to boost sales on Black Friday, the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

Originally known for crowds lining up at big-box stores in the U.S., the event has increasingly moved online and gone global, fuelled in part by Amazon, which advertises ten days of holiday discounts this year from Nov. 17 to Nov. 27.

In Germany, Amazon’s second-biggest market by sales last year, workers at five fulfilment centres in Bad Hersfeld, Dortmund, Koblenz, Leipzig, and Rheinberg started a 24-hour strike at midnight on Thursday to demand a collective wage agreement, trade union Verdi said.

An Amazon spokesperson in Germany said workers are paid fair wages, with a starting salary of more than 14 euros ($15.27) an hour, and have additional benefits. The spokesperson said deliveries of Black Friday orders will be reliable and timely.

More than 200 workers were striking on Friday at Amazon’s warehouse in Coventry, England as part of a long-running dispute over pay.

Nick Henderson, a worker at the Coventry warehouse, which acts as a logistics hub for Amazon to process products sent to other warehouses, said he was striking for higher pay and better working conditions.

The striking workers were chanting their demand for a pay rise to 15 pounds ($18.69) an hour.

An Amazon UK spokesperson said minimum starting pay is between 11.80 pounds and 13 pounds an hour depending on location, and would increase to 12.30 to 13 pounds an hour from April 2024. Amazon said the strike would not cause disruption.

Italian trade union CGIL called for a Black Friday strike at the Castel San Giovanni warehouse, while Spanish union CCOO called for Amazon warehouse and delivery workers to stage a one-hour strike on each shift on “Cyber Monday”, the last day of Amazon’s ten-day sale.

Amazon’s parcel lockers – located in train stations, supermarket car parks, and street corners, and used by many customers to receive orders – are also being targeted.

In France, anti-globalisation organisation Attac is encouraging activists to plaster them with posters and ticker tape, potentially blocking delivery workers and customers from being able to open them.

Attac, which calls Black Friday a “celebration of overproduction and overconsumption”, said it expects the protest to be wider than last year, when it estimated 100 Amazon lockers across France were targeted.

Amazon has remained popular in Europe even as rivals like Shein and Temu have seen rapid growth. Amazon’s app had 146 million active users in Europe in October, compared to 64 million for Shein and 51 million for Temu, according to data.ai.

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