New Delhi: Jeff Bezos’s company has made vast profits, but at a huge cost to workers and the planet, says Casper Gelderblom.
In an article in The Guardian, he writes, “But this year’s Black Friday not only presents an opportunity for Bezos to make extraordinary pandemic profits. It also marks the arrival of a new global movement linking warehouse workers, environmental activists and advocates for racial, tax, and data justice around the world in a common mission to #MakeAmazonPay”.
Casper Gelderblom is coordinator at the Progressive International and a PhD researcher at the European University Institute.
He wrote, “Black Friday is here once again, and bargains abound. With widespread lockdowns preventing crowds at brick-and-mortar stores, online sales are expected to soar. One merchant, in particular, stands to profit greatly: Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, at the helm of one of the world’s most powerful companies
“While Bezos’s wealth has risen by more than $ 70 billion (£52bn) since the onset of the pandemic, Amazon workers have put their health at risk daily with only marginal increases in pay”, he said.
The corporation is said to monitor its warehouse workers, sanctions them whenever their productivity drops and has spied on their efforts to organise, he wrote.
“The result: claims that workers have been forced to urinate in bottles for lack of adequate break-time (Amazon has disputed such claims), thousands of Covid infections and claims of inadequate worker protection”, he said.
“This Black Friday marks a turning point. Linking the struggles of trade unionists, environmentalists and progressive public advocates, a planetary coalition is asserting itself with a set of Common Demands and a global day of action. It is planting a multitude of small axes at the foot of the big tree that is Amazon’s empire”, Gelderblom wrote.
“Today, workers across Amazon’s supply chain – led by organisations such as UNI Global Union, Amazon Workers International, PSI, IndustriALL, the Athena coalition and the International Trade Union Confederation – are demanding justice from the corporation that runs on their energies. From producers in Bangladesh to tech workers in Seattle, from Amazon’s call centre in the Philippines to its warehouses across Europe, a global movement is standing up to make sure Amazon pays its workers properly, respects their right to organise, and builds worker power”, he said.
Stressing Amazon’s profound debts to society, groups such as the Tax Justice Network, Oxfam and Data 4 Black Lives have resolved to make Amazon pay for its abuse of public institutions, he added.