Investors with over US$1.2 trillion in assets urge Amazon to respect Coventry workers right to organize


Investors with over US$1.2 trillion in assets urge Amazon to respect Coventry workers right to organize

A coalition of 50 global investors, representing over US$1.2 trillion in assets, has called on Amazon to address serious concerns regarding workers’ rights to organize with the GMB at its Coventry fulfilment centre in the UK. This group, which includes prominent investors like NEST and Storebrand, demands that Amazon align its practices with its stated Global Human Rights Principles.

Despite Amazon’s declared commitment to the International Labour Organization’s Core Conventions and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, investors are troubled by reports suggesting that Amazon’s response to workers’ organizing efforts contradicts these commitments. The letter sent to Amazon insists on an explanation of how the company respects fundamental rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining at the Coventry facility.

The concerns of these investors follow legal action initiated by the GMB Union in April, accusing Amazon of coercing employees to abandon their union memberships. Allegedly, anti-union messages have been propagated within the fulfilment centre, and QR codes leading to union membership cancellation emails have been displayed.

In 2023, CCLA and other investors had previously encouraged Amazon to voluntarily recognize the GMB Union at Coventry. Although the Central Arbitration Committee ruled in favor of a union recognition vote, Amazon has yet to voluntarily acknowledge the union. The current investor letter is a follow-up to a recent proposal at Amazon’s AGM, which called for an independent report on Amazon’s commitment to employees’ rights. This proposal garnered significant support, with 37.4 per cent of independent shareholders voting in favor.

Peter Hugh Smith, CCLA Chief Executive, emphasized the importance of addressing these issues both for the sake of Amazon’s employees and for maintaining investor trust. “As an investor in Amazon, we want to do the right thing – both by our clients who expect us to be good stewards of their capital and by Amazon’s employees. In light of the countless media reports and allegations, and given two major ESG data providers have expressed concerns, questions from investors need to be answered. We want to see Amazon appoint a reputable third party to assess how they implement their human rights policies in UK fulfilment centres and to commit to rectifying any areas of non-conformance identified. The clock is ticking and it is time for Amazon to set the record straight.”

Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, lauded the investors’ efforts, stating, “It’s encouraging to see investors take a stand and push for greater accountability at Amazon. We applaud these investors for their commitment and urge all stakeholders to maintain consistent engagement beyond AGMs. By actively participating in this ongoing dialogue, investors can drive meaningful changes that prioritize the well-being of Amazon’s workers. UNI Global Union fully supports these efforts and calls on all investors to join in ensuring that Amazon upholds the highest standards of worker rights and fair treatment.”

Other investors, including representatives from Foster Denovo, Folksam, and KLP, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the reputational and operational risks Amazon faces if it continues to disregard international labor standards and its own policies. Emilie Westholm from Folksam expressed her concern over Amazon’s persistent failure to respect labor rights, while Kiran Aziz from KLP pointed out the company’s inadequate response to ongoing shareholder engagement.

Amanda Gearing, GMB Senior Organizer stated: “All GMB members at Amazon Coventry are calling for is respect and fair treatment. Instead, we’ve seen Amazon bosses pile company resources into union-busting tactics and stripping low paid workers of a voice. Pressure is building on Amazon to do the right thing and get out of the way of workers attempts to build a better life.”

The pressure on Amazon from this significant coalition of investors underscores the critical need for the company to address these human rights issues proactively. As a global entity, Amazon’s adherence to its declared standards is not only a matter of corporate responsibility but also crucial for sustaining long-term shareholder value and trust.



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