In Poland, this year’s Prime Day protests included a referendum to strike. TU NSZZ Solidarność and Workers’ Initiative, the two trade unions operating in Amazon Poland, are running the referendum. The decision to take the vote comes after negotiations with the company failed to resolve the collective dispute that has been ongoing since May.
At the beginning of July, Amazon Poland unilaterally broke off the mediated negotiations with workers, despite the fact that the unions wanted to continue bargaining.
“In our opinion, Amazon has gotten scared of the opportunities that a collective dispute gives us and that we, employees, will want to use them all. Therefore, from the very beginning they are trying to finish it as soon as possible,” says Grzegorz Cisoń, chairman of TU NSZZ Solidarność in Amazon Poland.
The vote is expected to last until September. Union representatives will visit Amazon warehouses throughout Poland on a rotational basis. Voter turnout has to exceed 50 percent of all workers to make the referendum binding.
On July 15, the trade unions set up in front of the warehouse center of the company near Poznań so the employees in that warehouse could vote there. On 16, July the ballot box was transported to Wrocław, and on July 17, the workers from Sosnowiec and Szczecin were voting in the strike referendum.
Trade unions in Amazon Poland are demanding to raise the hourly wages of rank-and-file employees to 25 Polish Zloty net. In June, the employer gave small pay rises without consulting the trade unions.
“There is no doubt that if there was no pressure from trade unions, the employer would not raise wages. The amount of increases, however, is definitely too low,” said Alfred Bujara, head of the National Secretariat of Banks, Commerce and Insurance of TU NSZZ Solidarność.
The union is also callin for better working conditions, and in particular addressing the fact that performance standards that are brutally high. The workers also want to put an end to precarious work, and they want the replacement of fixed-term and agency contracts with permanent employment contracts.
“Amazon’s backbreaking work rate forces employees to risk a lifetime of injury for one day delivery,” said Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce. “We are in solidarity Polish workers’ struggle, and if they vote to strike, they will have the support of the global labor movement.”
The American corporation that runs the world’s largest mail order sales network employ directly in Poland approximately 16,000 employees and another several thousand workers through external companies.