Black Friday Amazon strike: Workers in Manchester and across the world strike against multinational corporation

Workers and campaigners across 30 countries have taken part in coordinated strike action against Amazon.

Trade unions are claiming it is making up the biggest walkout in Amazon history.

Notably in the UK, 1,000 members of the GMB union have taken strike action in Coventry, with the union reporting the participation of 800 on the picket line.

A spokesperson for GMB Union said: “The company recently announced it would increase the minimum starting pay to up to £13 an hour from April, depending on location, but the union has called for a rate of at least £15 as well as better working conditions.”

Here in Manchester, there was a picket outside of Amazon’s Manchester HQ, with campaigners demanding better pay, rights and conditions.

The picket saw the co-founder of Ethical Consumer magazine, Rob Harrison, make a speech, alongside having musical street performers featuring drums and other percussion instruments.

We spoke to a campaigner outside the Manchester picket who said: “We are here to bring proper scrutiny to Amazon for their rates of pay, their tax that they don’t pay and also to highlight worker issues such as wages and workers’ rights. 

“Amazon is really clamping down on anybody trying to unionise, and come together and fight for their rights, which is something that we are trying to make the public aware of today.”

These protests and strikes are part of the global campaign ‘Make Amazon Pay’, organised by Global Justice Now and various trade unions such as GMB and others.

The campaign is fighting to improve working conditions and pay, as well as promote their view that Amazon is significantly damaging the environment, harvesting consumer data and refusing to pay tax.

They make a number of accusations against Amazon, including but not limited to:

  • Amazon have built a monopoly to dominate the online market
  • Amazon are avoiding tax
  • Amazon are mining consumers for data
  • Poor working conditions are leading workers to having to urinate in bottles due to insufficient breaks
  • Amazon’s business model is built on over-working and under-paying employees
  • The company is producing masses of waste and unnecessary carbon emissions
  • Amazon UK depots have had 600 ambulance call outs over three years 
  • Amazon will block and flag employee posts on internal messaging app that contain keywords relating to unions

When contacted for comment, an Amazon spokesperson replied with the following: “We offer competitive pay, comprehensive benefits, opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern, work environment. At Amazon, these benefits and opportunities come with the job, as does the ability to communicate directly with the leadership of the company.

“Amazon respects its employees’ rights to join, or not to join, a union.”

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