Amazon shouldn’t danger the well being and security of its workers to fulfill Black Friday buying calls for, Amnesty Worldwide warned on Thursday, accusing the web retail large of clamping down on workers’ proper to demand higher working circumstances.

In a report (PDF) known as “Amazon, Let Employees Unionize!”, the human rights group mentioned Amazon has undermined employees’ makes an attempt to unionise and cut price collectively.

The corporate has engaged in “surveillance in america and threats of authorized motion within the UK” and “has failed to interact on key well being and issues of safety in Poland and France”, Amnesty alleged in an announcement accompanying the report.

“As Amazon approaches its busiest time of yr with Black Friday and Christmas, we’re urging the corporate to respect the human rights of its employees and adjust to worldwide labour requirements,” Barbora Cernusakova, an Amnesty researcher, mentioned within the assertion.

“Amazon should chorus from breaching its employees’ rights to privateness, and cease treating union exercise as a risk.”

The rights group additionally accused Amazon of reinstating productiveness targets earlier than the busy Christmas vacation gross sales season.

These benchmarks have been suspended in March after an Amazon warehouse employee accused the corporate of not doing sufficient to guard its workers from the potential unfold of COVID-19 on the job.

An worker at an Amazon fulfilment centre on the outskirts of Bengaluru, India, in September 2018 [File: Abhishek N Chinnappa/Reuters]

Amazon has reported report income in the course of the pandemic, turning into a trillion-dollar firm as individuals selected on-line buying over going to shops in particular person.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest particular person on the earth, additionally turned the primary to amass greater than $200bn in private wealth.

“All by way of the pandemic, Amazon employees have been risking their well being and lives to make sure important items are delivered to our doorsteps, serving to Amazon obtain report income,” Cernusakova mentioned.

“On this context, it’s alarming that Amazon has handled makes an attempt to unionise with such hostility – as some of the highly effective corporations on the earth, it ought to know higher.”

Black Friday targets

Held the day after US Thanksgiving, Black Friday is likely one of the largest gross sales days for US retailers every year. It noticed a report $7.2bn in digital income within the US alone in 2019, based on Forbes.

Different nations have adopted the custom to compete with US retailers, particularly as gross sales have moved on-line.

Amnesty Worldwide mentioned in its report that because the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic started, Amazon knowledgeable employees in a number of nations that “productiveness targets” for delivery merchandise would resume upfront of the busy buying season.


“Employees within the UK reported receiving a textual content message stating that, ‘Beginning 21 October we’ll resume measuring and delivering productiveness efficiency suggestions to make sure we’re able to ship for purchasers within the coming weeks’,” the report states.

Amazon didn’t instantly reply to Al Jazeera’s request for touch upon Thursday.

The corporate’s web site mentioned Amazon recognises its accountability “to respect and uphold internationally acknowledged human rights by way of the moral remedy of our workforce”.

“Guided by the United Nations Guiding Rules on Enterprise and Human Rights, we decide to embedding respect for human rights all through our enterprise,” it says.

Vacation bonuses

In a weblog put up on Thursday, Dave Clark, senior vp of Amazon’s worldwide operations, introduced the corporate will give out $500m in vacation bonuses to its front-line workers.

Full-time employees within the US employed from December 1 to December 31 will qualify for a $300 bonus, whereas part-time US workers will qualify for $150, Clark mentioned.

An worker scans packages at Amazon’s JFK8 distribution centre in Staten Island, New York, on November 25 [Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

“Mixed with different vacation pay incentives, on this quarter alone, we’re investing over $750m in extra pay for our front-line hourly workforce, on prime of our industry-leading $15 nationwide minimal wage,” he mentioned.

However Amnesty Worldwide mentioned in its report that “the corporate’s sample of behaviour portrays a company tradition that’s adversarial in direction of employees’ rights to hitch a commerce union and organise collectively”.

Activists additionally launched a brand new set of calls for for Amazon this week, together with a push for wage will increase.

Warehouse employees, local weather activists and others launched the Make Amazon Pay (MAP) marketing campaign to push for ample breaks and job safety for Amazon workers, in addition to extra motion to fight local weather change, amongst different issues.

“The pandemic has uncovered how Amazon locations income forward of employees, society, and our planet. Amazon takes an excessive amount of and offers again too little,” the group mentioned on its web site.