Global Union Alliance: "Amazon cannot fire its way out of this crisis"
As Amazon workers in the United States France, Italy and around the world are taking action to protect their health and safety, a global alliance of unions is demanding that Amazon stop its dangerous denial of hazardous working conditions and stop its campaign of fear against workers organizing for safe jobs:
"Amazon workers around the world are risking their lives working under incredible pressure to serve their communities and earn a living. But when those four workers chose to stand up and publicly call on Amazon to do better, Amazon chose to fire them.
“Christian Smalls, Bashir Mohamed, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa are Amazon workers who dared to speak up for their colleagues and for what is right. They are whistleblowers and leaders, and we honor them for their bravery and solidarity. The Amazon Alliance, comprised of unions from 23 countries, condemns these unjust firings and demands Amazon rehire all our colleagues.
“Amazon cannot fire its way out of this crisis. Workers are taking action to demand dignity and safety, but rather than focusing on resolving these problems, the richest man on earth, a man who is getting richer as this pandemic goes on, refuses to negotiate or hear workers demands for a safer workplace.
“We are in a crisis, but this crisis will end, and when it does, governments, unions and civil society must come together to look at Amazon’s conduct during the crisis, and discuss a common-sense regulatory regime that ensures that Amazon plays be the rules.”
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, workers at Amazon warehouses in Europe and the United States have been forced to step up their pressure on the company to demand protection against the deadly virus.
“Sick-Out” in the US
In one of the largest Amazon protests of the COVID-19 era, hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers across the US are refusing to show up for work this week by calling in sick in response to the company’s coronavirus response. Organizers say that workers in 50 facilities are participating in the nationwide effort. In support of these workers, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the US-based RWDSU and Chair of the Amazon Union Alliance said that “Amazon continues prioritize maximizing its enormous profits over worker safety—and that is unacceptable.”
After court order, Amazon shuts down rather than negotiate with unions in France
Amazon closed six of the centers in France April 15th, after a French court ruled that the company could be fined €1 million per day if it ships anything not directly related to medical supplies, hygiene products, and food items, until such time as it could negotiate an agreement with the unions representing the workers. The company appealed the decision and was “ideologically opposed to social dialogue” according to one union representative. Amazon decided to close down rather than restrict its operations to essential goods or reach a deal. The complaint was brought by a French union out of concern for workers’ safety.
Strike in Italy
On Friday, April 17, half of the workers at the Amazon factory in Torrazza went on strike following four new coronavirus-positive cases. "We had no answers either from the company or from the prefect and from the institutions,” says Simona Cavaglià from the union CGIL-. In Amazon, everything is sold and the work rhythms inside the warehouses and among the couriers are frantic. If these are the premises for the reopening of the activities, the contagions in Piedmont will only increase.”
The Italian unions previously struck in 3 warehouse for more than 2 weeks. That strike was resolved with Amazon agreeing to follow health and safety guidelines, which Torrazza workers say the company has broken.
Coordinated by UNI Global Union, the alliance is comprised of unions from 22 countries including ver.di, the GMB, CCOO, CGIL, the RWDSU, and the Teamsters.