Amazon’s Black Friday turns into a global disaster

An XR activist outside Amazon on Black Friday
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Amazon’s Black Friday saw it becoming the subject of blockades, strikes, and protests around the world as activists and campaigners targeted it over a list of “crimes” nearly as substantial as its founder Jeff Bezos’s bank balance.

XR: facing-off with Amazon on Black Friday

As reported by PA, Extinction Rebellion (XR) has been blockading Amazon distribution (“fulfilment“) centres around the UK. PA noted that XR’s Black Friday demonstration involving around 20 activists started at 4am at the distribution centre in Dunfermline, Fife. The group said it was also targeting Amazon sites in Doncaster, Darlington, Newcastle, Manchester, Peterborough, Derby, Coventry, Rugeley, Dartford, Bristol, Tilbury, and Milton Keynes. XR said in a press release that the UK action was part of Europe-wide disruption. It has also been targeting fulfilment centres in Germany and the Netherlands.

PA reported that protesters with lock-ons and placards had stopped lorries entering the Fife site and some from leaving. In the Midlands, XR disrupted three Amazon fulfilment centres:

Read on...

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It also blockaded a site in Essex:

The group said in a press release that:

The action is taking place on Black Friday in order to confront the exploitative and environmentally destructive business practices of one of the world’s largest companies. Amazon is known for a long list of widely recognised “crimes”… while making its founder and largest shareholder Jeff Bezos one of the richest men on earth.

Criminal practices?

XR says Amazon’s list of crimes includes:

  • Emitting “60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year — more than a medium sized country and the equivalent of burning through 140 million barrels of oil”.
  • Lobbying the “US Government to fight against climate legislation, despite pledging to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2040. This target also does not include its supply chain which contributes 75% of its overall emissions… They are committing the very definition of greenwash”.
  • “Treating its workers ‘like robots’, with a report… stating that ambulances have been called out to UK warehouses 971 times since 2018. … An employee died at the site in Tilbury just last month”.
  • “Routinely” destroying “millions of items of unsold stock and returned items. Many of the products – including smart TVs and laptops – are often new and unused”.
  • “Legally” reporting “billions of pounds of sales in a tax haven, meaning they are stealing from the general public in order to grow”.

Activist and student Maciej Walczuk told PA:

We have to recognise that the consumption in the global north is largely based upon the exploitation of the working class and the global south, while companies like Amazon make massive profits and contribute to worsening the climate and ecological crisis.

We need a new system that respects people and the planet, instead of blindly chasing profit.

And it wasn’t just XR exposing Amazon’s crimes on Black Friday.

Make Bezos pay

Make Amazon Pay is a global coalition of campaign groups that’s also been taking action against the company. Make Amazon Pay has organised protests and strikes by Amazon workers around the world. For example, workers walked out in Germany:

The group released a video:

Make Amazon Pay has a list of common demands for the company. They include calls for Amazon to:

  • Improve the workplace.
  • Provide job security.
  • Respect workers’ universal rights.
  • Operate sustainably.
  • Pay back to society.

Hitting Amazon where it hurts?

Owen Espley from campaign group War on Want said:

Amazon’s growing power is a threat to communities and workers around the world. Amazon is abusing its dominance across online retail, cloud services, and logistics, to create unfair competition that is driving down standards for everyone. Amazon workers face unsafe conditions, constant surveillance and are treated like robots.

It’s time for Amazon to pay fair wages, fair taxes, and for its impact on the planet.

It will be interesting to see if the Black Friday chaos for Amazon has hit it and Bezos where it really hurts – in their wallets.

Featured image via Alex Street/Extinction Rebellion and additional reporting by PA

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  • Show Comments
    1. These criminal hooligans need to be imprisoned for blocking employees from their job sites. The employees need to pay their Bill’s, they don’t live in their parents basements and have their needs taken care of for them.
      Grow up you clowns…

    2. Living in Darlington where there was a protest outside the Amazon warehouse, I was not surprised by the hostile coverage on the front page of our local rag, the Northern Echo (founded in 1870, proud to have never run an investigative story or ruffled establishment feathers) which claimed that the brief blockade harmed workers who were sent home without pay. Given the vast profits made every day by this warehouse, there was no reason that the workers couldn’t be paid. Blame tax-avoiding, worker-exploiting Amazon, not the XR activists.

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