Amazon Workers International (AWI) is a cross-border coalition of Amazon warehouse employees from different shop floor organizations and countries, including Germany, Poland, Spain, France, Italy, Slovakia and the United States. We began organizing in 2015. Our last plenary meeting took place in Lille, France in September, 2020.
As essential workers, we have been working on site at Amazon’s warehouses throughout the pandemic. We worked, no matter the infection rate outside or inside the warehouses. In some places, our warehouses employ as many as 7 thousand workers at a single location.
The company’s fortune has grown as we work at great danger to ourselves, our families, our communities and society at large. In some places like Poland and Slovakia, our communities have no benefit at all from these risks, as the goods we process are shipped and sold in other countries. The company has thanked us in announcements and on bathroom stalls for our great contribution to keeping society running. It is thanks to us and all the other essential workers, that the world did not collapse due to coronavirus!
In return for this effort, Amazon offered us temporary hazard pay during the summer and then took it away. In places like Poland, the company decided against wage increases this year. In effect, while Jeff Bezos’s personal wealth skyrocketed, the hourly wage of the vast majority of Amazon employees in Poland was frozen at 20 PLN gross per hour (5.30 USD). We demand that Amazon permanently increase our wages in recognition of the critical role we warehouse workers play and as a small piece of the great fortune we generated for the company during the pandemic.
We say: Make Amazon Pay!
Amazon workers know that the company will make changes only under great pressure.
Warehouse employees have been organizing inside the warehouses despite the difficult months of pandemic, the detrimental influence of the virus and retaliation on the part of Amazon management. Over the past months, many collective actions, work stoppages and walkouts have taken place at Amazon.
In France, around 400 workers walked off the job both individually and collectively in April and May due to inadequate health and safety measures. With support from their unions, workers managed to force Amazon to shut down its Fulfillment Centers for three months at full pay for all employees. This autumn, workers managed to force Amazon France to pay full wages to all workers who walked off the job in April and May.
In the US, work stopped at sites in New York, Minnesota and Chicago multiple times in the spring also due to unsafe working conditions. US workers were able to force Amazon to install water stations, fans, A/C along with COVID-19 safety measures like volume reduction and temperature checks. They also won Paid Sick Time that Amazon had been illegally denying them, Paid Time Off for tens of thousands of part-timers nationwide and made Amazon pay workers they forced to take voluntary time off.
In Germany, about 3,000 warehouse workers in different sites went on strike to demand a permanent wage increase equal to the hourly paid hazard bonus.
Since the beginning of November 2020, work stoppages have also taken place in Poland. Workers at Polish sites are currently demanding a hazard pay of “2,000 PLN for everyone (about 450 USD)”.
AWI is moving forward! Amazon wants to return to business as usual. We demand extra breaks, higher wages and less pressure (down with productivity rates). The crises made it clear: we keep the world running, so we deserve much more!
Amazon workers: get involved at your warehouse, talk to your coworkers, organize and stay connected with the global movement!
Amazon Workers International salutes other organizations and individuals who will join us on Black Friday in demanding better working conditions for all company warehouse employees around the world.
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