Amazon Warehouse Workers Stage Black Friday Strike

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Sebastian Willnow/picture alliance via Getty Images)

It’s Black Friday and many Americans are either headed out shopping or filling their carts online. However, Amazon warehouse employees around the world have taken the day and gone on strike. Amazon employees participating in the strike internationally are demanding both better wages and better working conditions.

The Guardian reports that the strike has erupted in 40 different countries around the world. Some of these nations include Japan, Australia, India, the United States, and various nations across Europe. The strike severely impacts Amazon’s output as Black Friday represents one of the company’s biggest shopping days of the year.

Amanda Gearing, senior organizer at the GMB union—which represents hundreds of UK Amazon employees—spoke out about the protests. She said, “We are here today to tell Amazon [that] if you want to keep your empire going, talk to GMB to improve the pay and conditions of workers.”

Gearing added, “Amazon workers are overworked, underpaid and they have had enough.”

The employees’ demands amid Black Friday are especially prominent in the UK this year. According to the news outlet, profits at Amazon Services UK previously surged a massive 60% this year. That total amasses to what equates to more than $246 million. That said, the company’s workforce, which numbers nearly 75,000 people, are demanding a significant wage increase. Many employees are currently making £10.50, the equivalent of about $12.00. With Amazon’s profits this year, they’re on strike demanding a wage increase to about $18.00 per hour.

In light of the ongoing strike, however, Amazon has brought up its defenses, listing what positive advances within the company as a way to, potentially, undermine employees’ grievances.

Amazon UK Discouraging Black Friday Strike by Threatening Bonus Cancelations

Though Amazon employees have a right to strike, certain locations and company executives around the globe have begun to discourage their efforts in a big way. According to the outlet, workers participating in the strike at Amazon Services UK could potentially lose out on a several-hundred-dollar bonus that was previously promised to “tens of thousands of frontline workers.”

The bonus is part of a two-part reward, however Amazon only plans to award that portion of the bonus to employees do not take part in “unauthorised absences” between the dates of November 22nd and Christmas Eve which, obviously, including Black Friday.

The GMB union, however, argued that this move could potentially be considered an illegal strategy to deter ongoing strikes.

As the strike ensues through Black Friday, an Amazon spokesperson reeled against the protests. They said, “These groups represent a variety of interests, and 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.”

In their statement, they addressed employee work conditions, employment wages, and their efforts to lessen their impact on climate change.

Amazon employees aren’t the only ones in the UK currently partaking in a Black Friday strike. UK railway workers and department store employees alike have also begun speaking out about employee wages and conditions.