Amazon workers across the world plan Black Friday strike to demand the tech giant ‘pays fairly and ceases awful, unsafe practices’

Employees of internet retail giant Amazon stage a strike in front of the company's logistics center in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, on December 18, 2013.
Uwe Zucchi—DPA/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon is set to face fresh struggles with labor unions this week as its staff all over the world gear up to demonstrate against the company on one of its busiest days in the calendar year.

The coordinated action, which comes as part of a movement dubbed “Make Amazon Pay,” has been organized by 80 trade unions, environmental activism groups, tax watchdogs and other organizations, and will see strikes and protests carried out in around 40 countries.

The coalition is demanding that Amazon “pays its workers fairly and respects their right to join unions, pays its fair share of taxes and commits to real environmental sustainability.”

Announcing on Thursday that its members would carry out strikes and protests on Black Friday (Nov. 25), the group accused the tech giant of “squeezing every last drop it can from workers, communities and the planet.”

Workers in France, Germany, the U.S., India and Japan will stage strikes, walkouts and protests, while activists in Ireland and South Africa will hold demonstrations at Amazon headquarters in their respective countries. Other action will also be held in additional countries.

“As workers around the world struggle with the cost of living scandal, Amazon, despite its enormous profits, is forcing real terms pay cuts on its workers,” Daniel Kopp, one of Make Amazon Pay’s coordinators said in a statement on Thursday.

“It shirks its taxes, and its CO2 emissions are soaring. In the face of the cost-of-living scandal, global debt crisis and climate emergency, we are coming together to make Amazon pay.”

Nazma Akhter, president of Bangladesh’s Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation—which represents garment workers in Amazon’s supply chain and will march on Black Friday for union recognition, higher pay and better conditions—said Thursday that the organization’s members “toil to swell Amazon’s coffers often without any recognition that we are even Amazon workers.”

She added that Bangladesh was “on the frontline of climate breakdown” and wanted to see Amazon pay all its workers a decent wage and take responsibility for environmental damages it caused.

‘We are not perfect,’ Amazon says

A spokesperson for Amazon told Fortune on Thursday that it was working to address the issues being raised by Make Amazon Pay, which the company said “represents a variety of interests.”

“While we are not perfect in any area, if you objectively look at what Amazon is doing on these important matters you’ll see that we do take our role and our impact very seriously,” they said.

“We are inventing and investing significantly in all these areas, playing a significant role in addressing climate change with the Climate Pledge commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040, continuing to offer competitive wages and great benefits, and inventing new ways to keep our employees safe and healthy in our operations network, to name just a few.”

The spokesperson added that “anyone can see [this] for themselves by taking a tour at one of our sites.”

Make Amazon Pay’s plans for Black Friday are the latest in a string of events that show growing unrest among the company’s workers.

Amazon, like other major corporations including Starbucks, Apple and Google, has been grappling this year with the unionization of some of its U.S. workers.

Japanese Amazon drivers, meanwhile, have unionized to rebel against unrealistic A.I. delivery routes that don’t account for rivers, train tracks, or narrow roads.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which will fall on Nov. 28 this year, are the busiest dates in the retail year, with Amazon recording a record-breaking Black Friday sale in 2021.

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