Just in time for the online retailer’s Black Friday bonanza, Amazon warehouse employees across Europe went on strike or are staging protests today. According to the UNI Global Union, workers are demanding better working conditions and wages and protesting Amazon’s refusal to negotiate with them. “We are not robots,” the strikers are proclaiming.
The affected fulfillment centers are in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. UNI tells me that more than 2,400 workers in Spain and Germany are on strike currently, with hundreds more in the other areas.
In the U.K., the British trade union GMB says five different warehouses are holding protests. The group says it expects hundreds of employees to take part.
“The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman,” said GMB secretary general Tim Roache in a statement. “They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious, and being taken away in ambulances.”
Workers in Spain, Italy, and Germany have all planned strikes.
“Amazon has not made worker safety a top priority,” said Fiorenzo Molinari, a secretary at a local Italian trade union, in a provided statement. “To us, it seems like the company only pretends to care. Our warnings about unsafe conditions often go ignored, and our concerns about our jobs get deflected.”
These amazon workers from around the globe have come together with one message for Jeff Bezos. We are not robots, treat us with dignity and respect.
— GMB UNION (@GMB_union) November 22, 2018
In a statement, Amazon pushed back at the union complaints.
“We are a fair and responsible employer. We believe in continuous improvement across our network and maintain an open and direct dialogue with our associates,” the company said. “We have invested over 27 billion EUR and created over 75,000 permanent jobs across Europe since 2010. These are good jobs with highly competitive pay, full benefits, and innovative training programs.”
The statement added: “We provide safe and positive working conditions and encourage anyone to come see for themselves by taking a tour at one of our fulfillment centers.”
This isn’t the first time European Amazon workers have gone on strike. On Prime Day last July, employees in Spain stopped working en masse. Workers in other facilities around Europe decided to join the strike too. And last year, facilities in Germany and Italy went on strike during Black Friday too.