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Protests Intensify Against Amazon's Working Conditions

Workers say conditions are "inhuman" and there have been many incidents of hospitalizations at warehouses in the U.S. and Europe.

Working conditions at Amazon have been under scrutiny for a while but recently it has reached the level of protests.

On Dec.14 at Amazon’s facility in Shakopee, Minn., workers protested what they called a “pressure cooker” environment, as reported by the St. Paul Business Journal.

This particular plant has been in the news before as last month the local Somali community, which has become a big part of the company’s local workforce, was successful in pressuring Amazon to negotiate over working conditions.  

And a day earlier, Dec. 13, in New Jersey workers protested outside an Amazon bookstore in Manhattan. This group, led by a coalition of labor unions and community organizations, staged the protest to launch a campaign to pressure e-commerce retailers like Amazon to adopt a code of conduct for treatment of warehouse workers, according to a local New Jersey paper.

And protests are not just being held in the US. In the UK on Black Friday a UK-based union, GMB, went on strike against the company to oppose what it called “inhuman working conditions” for Amazon workers.

The union cited a Freedom of Information disclosure that showed ambulances had been called to Amazon warehouse facilities 600 times over three years, as reported by CNBC.

Ambulances were also called on Dec. 6 to an Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville, NJ. Twenty-four workers were taken to the hospital after an automated machine accidentally punctured a can of bear repellent spray, which includes an ingredient similar to pepper spray.

In an article in the Telegraph, union official Stuart Applebaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, commented on the situation. “The richest company in the world cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people’s lives at risk," he said. "Our union will not back down until Amazon is held accountable for these and so many more dangerous labor practices.”

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