On Black Friday — the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S. and the kickoff of holiday season shopping as a whole — the corporation in an action called #MakeAmazonPay. UNI, a global trade union based in Switzerland, announced the #MakeAmazonPay action with a statement about workers, global climate and progressive organizations coming together to make it happen.
UNI pointed out several of Amazon’s ills in the first sentence of their statement: anti-union practices, climate impact, not caring about worker safety, and avoiding taxes. In their list of demands, Amazon workers call for improved working conditions, a commitment to respecting workers’ universal rights, more sustainability, and that the company gives back to society. Organizations such as Greenpeace and UNI itself signed the list of demands, and anyone in the public can do so as well on #MakeAmazonPay’s website.
In a statement to Engadget, Amazon called UNI’s statement a “a series of misleading assertions”:
This is a series of misleading assertions by misinformed or self-interested groups who are using Amazon’s profile to further their individual causes. Amazon has a strong track record of supporting our people, our customers, and our communities, including providing safe working conditions and leading $15 minimum wage and great benefits, leading on climate change with the Climate Pledge commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040, and paying more than $5 billion in taxes globally.
For Amazon workers who’ve experienced risky working conditions while founder Jeff Bezos’s became $90 billion richer during the pandemic, however, that statement probably rings hollow — and didn’t stop any protests. Given that Amazon hired Pinkerton spies to surveil workers’ labor and climate groups, their “track record of supporting [their] people” isn’t as clean as they tout.
As first reported by VICE, it wasn’t just Amazon workers who protested either. Trade union members and climate organizers such as those from the group Extinction Rebellion also took to the streets.
Here are photos of the protests, from Washington, D.C. to Dhaka, Bangladesh: