Amazon workers on “Prime Day” strike

Thousands of workers across Europe are striking for better compensation and working conditions.

Almost 1,800 Amazon workers in Spain walked off the job yesterday (July 16th), and thousands of their German counterparts are expected to join them today.

The strike is occurring in conjunction with “Prime Day”, which is the online retailer’s annual flagship sale. Despite being dubbed “Prime Day”, the sale actually spans a 36-hour period.

The workers are calling for better working conditions and compensation – particularly health benefits.

In Spain, the strike took place at Amazon's biggest warehouse in San Fernando, just outside the capital of Madrid. The majority of Amazon's Spanish workforce, which numbers 1,600 in total, is based there.

"Strikes aren't good for anyone, not the company, the workers or the customers, but we need to keep putting pressure on local management," said Douglas Harper, a representative of the Comisiones Obreras union representing the workers.

“"The message is clear — while the online giant gets rich, it is saving money on the health of its workers,” said Stefanie Nutzenberger, a spokesperson for Verdi services union that represents the German warehouse workers.

Some Amazon workers in Poland are also enacting a “work-to-rule protest”; a form of industrial action where employees carry out the bare minimum of work expected of them.

"Amazon's total pay is at the high end of the range in the logistics sector, it includes an attractive salary and an extensive benefits package," said the company in a statement to Reuters.

Meanwhile, in responding to an e-mail from Gizmodo, an Amazon spokesperson said, “Amazon is a fair and responsible employer and as such we are committed to dialogue, which is an inseparable part of our culture. We are committed to ensuring a fair cooperation with all our employees, including positive working conditions and a caring and inclusive environment.”

On social media, activists have also been calling for consumers to boycott the Prime Day sale.

Last year’s Prime Day event brought in more than US$2billion (SG$2.8 billion). Despite the strikes and proposed boycotts, the figure is expected to increase by at least half this year.



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