One item that will be in stock on Black Friday is strikes.
Black Friday is right around the corner, and you know what that means: deep discounts on all your favorite products from Amazon, brought to you by squeezing low-wage workers for every ounce of labor that can be extracted from them. The holiday season is a particularly brutal time to be an employee in Amazon warehouses, but this year, Black Friday will look more like a blackout in some Amazon facilities. Warehouse workers in more than 20 countries are planning to carry out strikes, protests, and demonstrations on one of the biggest shopping days of the year in order to draw attention to Amazon’s unfair treatment of workers.
The effort, organized by grassroots collectives operating under the unifying banner of the Make Amazon Pay Coalition, will lead demonstrations across the world on Nov. 26. The protests will highlight the many ways employees say the company cuts corners, mistreats workers, and damages the planet.
Planned events for Black Friday include protests from garment workers in Cambodia, where Amazon previously ducked out of paying workers severance during the pandemic; strikes and work stoppages at warehouses across France; a driver strike in Italy, the second of the year after delivery drivers sought a more humane work schedule in March; demonstrations at the construction site that will soon be Amazon’s new regional headquarters in South Africa, which is being built on sacred Indigenous land; and protests of Amazon’s environmental impact in Spain, a continuation of pressure being placed on the company by employees who demand it cut down its greenhouse emissions. Workers across the United States will get involved, too, with both virtual and in-person demonstrations planned in at least five cities.
There are plenty of reasons to call out Amazon, a company that seems hellbent on maximizing profit at the expense of anyone and anything that may stand in its way. The company pledged to shrink its carbon footprint but continues to produce a massive amount of waste and emissions — and has fired employees that called out its environmental impact. It brags about its high minimum wage but puts such pressure on its workers that they experience burnout, suffer injuries, and are faced with ridiculous choices like peeing into bottles rather than stopping work for even a minute. The company has also gone out of its way to crush any sort of union efforts through cartoonishly evil propaganda campaigns and deeply troubling employee monitoring techniques.
All of those shitty conditions that Amazon workers face all year long are amplified during the holiday season. Warehouse workers have reported being required to work 60-hour weeks where they are tasked with doing physical labor at breakneck speeds to keep up with demand. Stress is through the roof for workers, the week often results in high rates of workplace injuries, and employees face consequences if they don’t keep up with the absurd pace. The strikes and walkouts won’t just be workers flexing the power of their labor, it’ll also be a much-needed break — which Amazon doesn’t provide.