Amazon warehouses hit by Black Friday protests

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Britain's Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn outside Amazon's depot in Sheffield, Britain, on 23 November. Photo: Scott Heppell/Reuters

Protests are taking place at Amazon (AMZN) warehouse across the UK against working conditions, during one of the busiest online shopping periods of the year.

Union GMB has coordinated protest across the country to coincide with ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’, two of the busiest shopping days of the year.

GMB national officer Mick Rix said the actions were to draw attention to “appalling” working conditions at the warehouses.

“Workers are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances,” Rix said in a statement. 

“Amazon has spent a fortune on fluffy adverts saying what a great place it is to work. Why not spend the money making their warehouses less dangerous places to work? Amazon workers want Jeff Bezos to know they are people – not robots.”

Protests outside an Amazon warehouse. Photo: GMB

GMB said over 600 ambulances were called to Amazon warehouses over a three year period and more than 600 serious incidents were reported to the Health and Safety Executive for injuries.

The union said workers were also forced to use water bottles to urinate in and said it had received at least one report of a lost pregnancy at a warehouse.

“It’s about time Mr Bezos showed empathy with the very people that have helped build his vast empire and make sure it is not a Black Friday for Amazon workers,” Rix said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the protests outside Amazon’s Sheffield site to show his support. Labour’s Jack Dromey, who is defending his seat Birmingham Erdington, also tweeted about his visit to see protestors outside the Amazon warehouse in Rugeley.

“One young man with his child nearly in tears just sacked. A 21st century company! More like a 19th century millowner. Shame on you, @JeffBezos,” Dromey tweeted.

Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn poses with people holding a banner outside Amazon's depot in Sheffield, Britain. Photo: Scott Heppell/Reuters

A spokesperson for Amazon said: “Self-interested critics have a vested interest in spreading misinformation about Amazon but the facts tell a different story. The truth is that Amazon already offers industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits, as well as a safe, modern work environment.

“These groups are conjuring misinformation to work in their favour, when in fact we already offer the things they claim to be fighting for. You don’t have to take our word for it – or theirs. Come and see for yourself by registering for a tour at one of our fulfilment centres.”