Putting the pressure on Amazon

Unite activists on Grays High Street highlighting Amazon’s dodgy practices

On Wednesday 28 July, members of the Unite union were out on Grays High Street to highlight exploitative working practices at Amazon distribution centres and also, price gouging on items that are in high demand: Union campaigners take to town High Street to highlight their concerns about Amazon. In the area we cover, Amazon have two distribution centres at Tilbury and Basildon.

This is how we’ve covered Amazon’s exploitative work practices in the past: Dark, Satanic warehouses… 23.10.18 and: Welcome to the dark Satanic mills of the 21st century 07.12.19.

Amazon put in a fair bit of work with community engagement. Any company the size of Amazon does pretty much the same. The money spent on this is a few coins of loose change in relation to the profits Amazon make. The reason they do this is public relations, pure and simple. It’s to get people to think they’re a friendly company and to deflect attention away from the workers slogging their guts out on the warehouse floor under constant pressure with barely enough time to take a toilet break. Don’t get taken in by this bullshit…

While the workers at Amazon distribution centres around the world slog their guts out, the CEO of the company, Jeff Bezos, blows some of the profits on launching himself into space Bezos blasted for traveling to space while Amazon workers toil on planet Earth. If that’s not trolling your workers big time, we don’t know what is!

At the protest in Grays, Unite members gave prominence to a hot line where workers who feel Amazon are screwing them over can contact them in confidentiality.

This is the number: 08000 14 12 61

As well as highlighting exploitative working practices, Unite members also highlighted Amazon’s cynical price gouging during lockdown when people with health vulnerabilities felt they couldn’t go out to the shops and had to rely on online shopping services. Unite identified 50 items sold on the Amazon site for at least double their usual price from March 2020 to November 2020 onwards. They include soap, antibacterial spray and wipes, washing up liquid, hand wash, bleach, thermometers, face masks, toilet paper, disposable gloves, sanitary products, vitamins, toothpaste, health creams, tea and tinned food.

Sharon Graham, Unite Executive Officer for Organising and Leverage said: “Amazon is steeped in corporate irresponsibility, from its anti-union tactics to tax avoidance. Now Amazon stands accused of profiting from price gouging on its website at the height of the pandemic when vulnerable people were most at need. It’s time for Amazon to be held to account.”

We’ll be watching this one with interest and will offer any Amazon workers fighting back our total solidarity…

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