Published: Tue, July 16, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Amazon workers stage protest as Prime Day kicks off

Amazon workers stage protest as Prime Day kicks off

A group of Amazon workers in Minnesota who are Somali refugees resettled in the Midwestern US state demanded better working conditions during a protest outside one of the retailer's warehouses.

A group of activists staged protests at the Amazon office in downtown San Francisco Monday, urging the USA top online retailer to cut supply of new technology like facial recognition to federal agencies.

Amazon workers walked out of a main distribution centre in Minnesota on Monday, protesting for improved working conditions during the e-commerce titan's major "Prime" shopping event.

Amazon's biggest sale of the year is underway.

The Prime Day strikes are the latest of numerous protests against Amazon's treatment of workers.

Prime Day is being promoted on Amazon's website as a "two-day parade of epic deals", when monthly subscribers to the company's Prime service can shop for discounted items and expect fast home delivery.

In the United Kingdom, where it employs 29,500 people, a spokesperson said the company offered industry-leading pay starting at £9.50 per hour and was the "employer of choice for thousands of people across the UK".

Stuart Appelaum, the president for UNI Global Union, a Switzerland-based union co-ordinating Amazon workers and their unions, said: "Amazon needs to understand that human beings are not robots".

"While we don't provide exact numbers, we are seeing very limited participation across Germany with zero operational impact and therefore no impact on customer deliveries", an Amazon spokesperson told CNN Business. Employee advocates say that will put more physical pressure on workers to keep up with demand. Thus far, workers have won some concessions, including the right, in 2018, to honor the Muslim holiday of Ramadan during that year's Prime Day event. The spark spread throughout the world as thousands of Amazon employees are striking against the multinational company.

Amazon shoppers are canceling their Prime memberships on Prime Day as a show of support for Amazon workers protesting against working conditions at the tech giant.

The list goes on and on: decreased bonuses and increased work hours, no job security for temporary workers, as well as protest hours deducted from the workers, which can see some of them fired - the workers receive 20 hours of unpaid time every three months.

The AFL-CIO issued a statement in support of the warehouse workers, saying the walkout "underscores why we need to strengthen protections for workers and unions across the country".

"'It kind of reminds me of an American-made sweatshop, '" Andrea says, reflecting on how she feels about her experience working for Amazon.

Productivity quotas for workers are estimated around 600 packages per hour, no matter the size of the items. Company policy requires that more than 75 percent of workers exceed their rate expectations before any changes are considered. In another case, a former Amazon employee said he was sacked for supporting unionization efforts. The processes that allow the company to ship you basically anything you want for the lowest price possible in a day or two are incredibly inefficient and borderline inhumane.

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