Not everyone is excited about the Black Friday madness. About 620 Amazon workers in Germany, as well as others in Spain and the U.K., staged walkouts and strikes on November 23.
Their demands? Better pay and working conditions, Yahoo! Finance reports.
At its centers in Bad Hersfeld and Rheinberg in Germany, 620 workers walked out for 24 hours after Germany’s Verdi services union called for a strike.
Workers at Spain’s biggest warehouse, located in San Fernando de Henares, also walked out on Friday — and plan to strike Saturday.
“We are entering the end of year spurt, the most stressful time for employees,” said Mechthild Middeke, a spokesperson for Verdi. “Especially on a day like Black Friday, employees should be the central focus.”
Amazon Germany says that a majority of employees stayed on the job, and that there would be no delay in customer service. It also defended its pay and worker conditions, saying that it offers competitive pay and benefits, with workers earning an equivalent of $12.23 per hour to start.
In Spain, 85 to 90 percent of the employees took part in the walkout according to the local unions. Amazon Spain disputes the numbers, saying that a majority of employees were still at work, processing customer orders.
A trade union in the United Kingdom also announced a protest against Amazon, saying that the company fosters “inhumane” conditions for warehouse workers. The GMB Union claims that workers are “breaking bones, being knocked unconscious, and being taken away in ambulances.”
Workers are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances.
— GMB UNION (@GMB_union) November 23, 2018
Over the past several years, ambulances have been called to Amazon warehouses about 600 times, according to CNBC. At one warehouse with somewhere between 1,800 and 2,000 workers, an ambulance was called 115 times. For comparison, a nearby Tesco with 1,300 workers needed an ambulance just eight times.
Amazon UK says that its network is “fully operational,” and that “any reports to the contrary are simply wrong.”
The company also disputes that working conditions in its warehouses are dangerous or that it is paying out substandard wages in the U.K.
“According to the U.K. Government’s Health and Safety Executive, Amazon has over 40% fewer injuries on average than other transportation and warehousing companies in the U.K.,” the company said in a statement. “We encourage everyone to compare our pay, benefits and working conditions to others and come see for yourself on one of the public tours we offer every day at our centers across the UK.”
GMB says that workers in Italy will also “take action” to protest conditions and pay for Black Friday. The union is encouraging other Amazon employees to share their experiences with the company using the hashtag #AmazonWeAreNotRobots.