'We are not robots': Amazon workers walk out on Black Friday over low wages and 'inhuman conditions'
Amazon workers across Europe staged a walkout on Black Friday—when retailers offer major deals to holiday season shoppers the day after Thanksgiving—to protest low wages as well as "inhuman conditions" at company warehouses.
"It is one of the days that Amazon has most sales, and these are days when we can hurt more and make ourselves be heard because the company has not listened to us and does not want to reach any agreement."
—Eduardo Hernandez, Amazon worker in Spain
Eduardo Hernandez, a 38-year-old employee at an Amazon logistics depot in Madrid, Spain—where about 90 percent of staff walked off the job—toldthe Associated Press that the action was intentionally scheduled on the popular shopping day to negatively impacting the company's profits.
Hoy #BlackFriday es un #BlackFridaySinAmazon: Comienza la #HuelgaAmazon en #Madrid, en lucha por los derechos que la empresa mas rica del mundo quiere arrebatar a su plantilla pic.twitter.com/dWe3mUeAVh— CCOO de Madrid (@CCOOMadrid) November 23, 2018
Protests were also planned for Amazon facilities in Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
Some 620 employees at Amazon distribution centers in Rheinberg and Bad Hersfeld, Germany joined the walkout to demand higher wages, while union members in the U.K. organized actions at five warehouses across the country to highlight safety concerns.
#GMBUnion4Amazon@GMBunionAmazon @GMBactivistAmazon @GMB_union Early start for @GMBLondonRegion members demonstrating @amazon Milton Keynes warehouse.Loads of support from the #AmazonWeAreNotRobots workers - less so from management. Now there’s a surprise! pic.twitter.com/0H0zpR0G37— tony warr (@twgmb) November 23, 2018
As Tim Roache, head of the London-based GMB union explained: "The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman. They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious, and being taken away in ambulances."
While Amazon denies these claims—telling Business Insider in a statement Thursday that "all of our sites are safe places to work and reports to the contrary are simply wrong"—Roache said the workers are "standing up and saying enough is enough."
Amazon CEO "Jeff Bezos is the richest bloke on the planet; he can afford to sort this out. You'd think making the workplace safer so people aren't carted out of the warehouse in an ambulance is in everyone's interest," Roache added. "These are people making Amazon its money. People with kids, homes, bills to pay—they're not robots."
In a video from the union targeting Bezos, workers also declared in multiple languages, "We are not robots." Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the U.K.'s Labour Party, shared the video on Twitter and expressed "solidarity" with those participating in the walkout.
Solidarity with Amazon warehouse staff who are demonstrating today for better working conditions.… https://t.co/pxwyQKhCYE— Jeremy Corbyn (@Jeremy Corbyn) 1542976908