Protestors call for Amazon to respect workers' rights
- Credit: Unite The Union
Activists rallied outside Amazon's Fashion Studio in Shoreditch on May 26, demanding the tech giant respect workers' rights around the world.
Protesters gathered outside the building in Geffrye Street, calling out the company and its suppliers' "shocking treatment" of workers – in particular garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia.
The demonstration is part of an international campaign called #PayYourWorkers launched by UK union Unite, together with global union Uni.
Protester Mark Sandell said the campaign was not asking people to boycott Amazon but rather, put pressure on the company: "We know that amazon isn't the only international corporation that are doing things like this but we want to call it out.
"People need to know what lies behind the website when they order something and demand that Amazon changes its behaviour, stops being so hostile to unions and starts treating their workers with decency."
Mark is involved with Unite's Action on Amazon campaign supporting Amazon supply chain workers in the UK.
The initiative set up a helpline for people to report what is happening inside Amazon's warehouses.
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He says Amazon workers in the UK report "impossible targets" and a "bullying" management culture.
Mark told the Gazette: "There is a lot of pressure on people not to take toilet breaks and pressure on people to finish jobs at the end of the day, even if that involves working absolutely flat out when exhausted."
Mark said workers have also reported being fired after questioning targets, adding that they are "constantly" assessed and measured by apps and robotics.
Demonstrators at the protest hope Amazon and other apparel brands and retailers will ensure the workers who make their clothes are paid full wages throughout the pandemic. They want the companies to ensure workers are protected if factories go bankrupt and make sure they are able to organise and bargain collectively through unions.
In response to the day of action, a spokesperson for Amazon said: "Since the beginning of the pandemic, Amazon has honoured all orders for both our US and EU private-label apparel businesses, and we are committed to continuously supporting our suppliers, their workers, and their communities.
"In 2020, we created a $1.3 million fund to invest in organizations providing critical frontline support to workers impacted by the pandemic."