Amazon workers go on strike on Black Friday

Strike timed to coincide with Black Friday and Cyber Monday

A logo sits on a wall outside the Amazon.co.uk Marston Gate 'Fulfillment Center,' the U.K. site of Amazon.com Inc. in Ridgmont, U.K., on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. U.K. consumer confidence unexpectedly increased to an 18-month high in November as Britons become more optimistic about the economy and their finances, GfK NOP Ltd. said. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Amazon workers across the UK have gone on strike, in a protest timed to coincide with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Workers are demanding an end to what they claim to be ‘appalling’ working conditions.

Trade union GMB co-ordinated the British demonstrations to take place across two of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Amazon has spent a fortune on fluffy adverts saying what a great place it is to work. Why not spend the money making their warehouses less dangerous places to work?

The union cited figures suggesting there had been more than 600 ambulance call-outs to Amazon warehouses over a three-year period and just as many serious incidents reported to the Health and Safety Executive for various injuries. They also claimed workers had to urinate in water bottles and said there had been at least one report of a lost pregnancy.

An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement that many are ‘self-interested critics’ with ‘a vested interest in spreading misinformation’, adding that ‘the facts tell a different story’.

‘The truth is that Amazon already offers industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits, as well as a safe, modern work environment. These groups are conjuring misinformation to work in their favour, when in fact we already offer the things they claim to be fighting for.

Amazon workers in Germany marked Black Friday by going on strike for better pay. Union ver.di announced that the walkouts would affect six distribution centres across the country, with some due to last until Tuesday.

Representative Orhan Akman said staff want to send a signal that their work can’t be bought with the kind of extreme discounts offered by the online retail giant around this time of the year. He also accused the company of putting ‘extreme pressure’ on staff that has caused some to fall ill.

Amazon responded that ‘packages are arriving punctually, because the bulk of employees is dealing completely normally with customers’ orders today’. It added that it offers pay ‘at the upper end of comparable jobs’ and other benefits.

In Paris, climate activists blocked one of the company’s warehouses in protest at the over-production which they say is killing the planet, while in Germany,  hundreds of employees at distribution centres across Germany walked out amid a long battle for better pay.

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