LONDON (Reuters) – 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 campaign coordinated by the UNI Global Union, said strikes and protests would take place in more than 30 countries from Black Friday – the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, when many retailers slash prices to boost sales – through to Monday.
Originally known for crowds lining up at big-box stores in the U.S., Black Friday 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, trade union Verdi said around 250 workers were on strike at an Amazon warehouse in Leipzig on Friday, about 20% of the workforce, and 500 went on strike at a warehouse in Rheinberg – nearly 40% of workers.
The union said a 24-hour strike across five fulfilment centres in the country had started at midnight on Thursday to demand a collective wage agreement.
An Amazon spokesperson in Germany said only a small number of workers were on strike, and that workers are paid fair wages, with a starting salary of more than 14 euros ($15.27) an hour. The spokesperson said deliveries of Black Friday orders would be reliable and timely.
In Coventry, England, more than 200 workers were striking on Friday at Amazon’s warehouse 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 to send 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.
In Italy, there were competing reports on strike participation. Trade union CGIL said more than 60% of workers at the Amazon warehouse in Castel San Giovanni went on strike on Friday, but Amazon said more than 86% of workers came to work and there has been no impact to operations.
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.
In France, Amazon’s parcel lockers – located in train stations, supermarket car parks, and street corners, and used by many customers to receive orders – were also targeted.
Lockers in Paris and other cities in France were plastered with posters and ticker tape, according to anti-globalisation organisation Attac, which planned the protest.
Attac, which calls Black Friday a “celebration of overproduction and overconsumption”, said it expects the protest to be wider than last year, when it estimates 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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(Reporting by Helen Reid and James Davey in London, Phil Noble in Coventry, Matthias Inverardi in Dusseldorf, Elisa Anzolin in Milan, Corina Pons in Madrid, Editing by Sharon Singleton and Nick Zieminski)