Climate activists have blocked Amazon distribution centers across the UK to highlight the company’s treatment of its workforce and what they say are its “destructive business practices for environment and unnecessary ”.
Dozens of Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists locked themselves in together and used bamboo structures in an attempt to disrupt the online retail company’s distribution network on Black Friday, one of the shopping days. busiest of the year.
Unveiling banners reading “Infinite Growth: Finite Planet”, protesters said the blockade was part of an international action by XR targeting Amazon “distribution centers” in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands .
In the UK, activists have targeted sites in Dunfermline, Doncaster, Darlington, Newcastle upon Tyne, Manchester, Peterborough, Derby, Coventry, Rugeley, Dartford, Bristol, Tilbury and Milton Keynes.
Rob Callender, 31, from Uxbridge, west London, was one of the XR protesters at the Dartford blockade. “We have to make Amazon pay for the damage it does to the environment…” he said.
Protesters say they hope to continue blockades for several hours, possibly until the weekend.
Amazon has been criticized for its treatment of its workers who described grueling conditions, unrealistic productivity goals, surveillance, bogus self-employment, and a refusal to recognize or engage with unions unless forced to. .
Employees also called on its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, to do more to tackle the climate crisis.
Responding to the protests, an Amazon spokesperson said the company was taking its responsibilities “very seriously.”
“This includes our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040, 10 years before the Paris Agreement, by providing excellent wages and benefits in a safe and modern working environment, and by supporting the tens of thousands of small UK businesses that sell in our store, ”they said.
The spokesperson acknowledged that there was “more to do”, adding: “We will continue to invent and invest on behalf of our employees, customers, small businesses and communities in the UK. We are proud to have invested £ 32bn in the UK since 2010, creating 10,000 new permanent jobs across the country this year alone, and generating a UK total [direct and indirect] tax contribution of £ 1.55 billion in 2020. ‘
Separate Black Friday protests organized by the coalition of unions and campaign groups Make Amazon Pay also took place at the company’s other sites across the UK on Friday.
Supported by the GMB union, the Trade Union Congress, the International Federation of Transport Workers and War on Want, and co-organized by Progressive International and UNI Global Union, the campaign aims to highlight what they describe as abuse. of the company towards the workers and the planet.