Amazon employees at five the United Kingdom's largest warehouses are planning to stage rallies and protests on Black Friday to bring attention to their "inhumane conditions," Buzzfeed News reported. The protests are being staged by GMB Union who help negotiate on behalf of Amazon employees, although they aren't officially recognized. Other unions throughout Europe are coordinating similar protests in collaboration with GMB.
Workers in Spain, Italy, Poland and Germany are planning to walk off the job on Friday when the internet giant is scheduled to have Black Friday deals.
The main distribution centers who are protesting are in Rugeley, Milton Keynes, Warrington, Peterborough and Swansea.
GMB general secretary Tim Roache called on Amazon to negotiate with the union in a statement:
The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman. They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances.
We're standing up and saying enough is enough, these are people making Amazon its money. People with kids, homes, bills to pay — they're not robots.
Jeff Bezos is the richest bloke on the planet; he can afford to sort this out. You'd think making the workplace safer so people aren't carted out of the warehouse in an ambulance is in everyone’s interest, but Amazon seemingly have no will to get round the table with us as the union representing hundreds of their staff.
Amazon said in a statement that they still plan to be fully operational on Friday and defended their company's working conditions:
Our European Fulfillment Network is fully operational and we continue to focus on delivering for our customers. Any reports to the contrary are simply wrong.
We are a fair and responsible employer. We believe in continuous improvement across our network and maintain an open and direct dialogue with our associates.
These are good jobs with highly competitive pay, full benefits, and innovative training programs like Career Choice that pre-pays 95% of tuition for associates. In the UK, as an example, we recently increased the Amazon wage to start from £9.50 an hour and in the London are from £10.50 an hour.
The internet giant came under fire this summer when they tried to keep UK employees from unionizing.