Amazon AMZN-Q workers walked out on strike at multiple locations across Europe on Friday in protests against the U.S. e-commerce giant’s working practices on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
“Make Amazon Pay,” a campaign co-ordinated by the UNI Global Union, said strikes and protests would take place in more than 30 countries from Black Friday – the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, when many retailers slash prices to boost sales – until Monday.
Originally known for crowds lining up at big-box stores in the U.S., Black Friday has increasingly moved online and gone global, fuelled in part by Amazon, which this year has advertised holiday discounts from Nov. 17 to Nov. 27.
In Germany, Amazon’s second-biggest market by sales last year, trade union Verdi estimated that around 2,000 workers went on strike across six Amazon fulfilment centre in Germany.
It said 500 workers had gone on strike at a warehouse in Rheinberg, accounting for nearly 40% of the work force, and around 250 workers had done so at a warehouse in Leipzig, accounting for about 20% there.
An Amazon spokesperson in Germany said only a small number of workers were on strike, and that workers are paid fair wages, with a starting salary of more than 14 euros ($15.27) an hour. The spokesperson said deliveries of Black Friday orders would be reliable and timely.
In England, more than 200 workers were striking on Friday at Amazon’s warehouse in Coventry as part of a long-running dispute over pay.
Nick Henderson, a worker at the warehouse, which acts as a logistics hub for Amazon to process products to send to other warehouses, said he was striking for higher pay and better working conditions.
The striking workers were chanting their demand for a pay rise to 15 pounds ($18.69) an hour.
An Amazon U.K. spokesperson said minimum starting pay is between 11.80 pounds and 13 pounds an hour depending on location, and would increase to 12.30 to 13 pounds an hour from April 2024. Amazon said the strike would not cause disruption.
In Italy, trade union CGIL said more than 60% of workers at the Amazon warehouse in Castel San Giovanni were on strike, while Amazon said more than 86% of its workers there had come to work and there has been no impact to operations.
Spanish union CCOO called for Amazon warehouse and delivery workers to stage a one-hour strike on each shift on “Cyber Monday” next week.
In France, Amazon’s parcel lockers – located in train stations, supermarket car parks, and street corners, and used by many customers to receive orders – were plastered with posters and barricade tape, according to anti-globalisation organization Attac, which planned the protest.
Attac, which calls Black Friday a “celebration of overproduction and overconsumption,” said 40 lockers were targeted across the country. Amazon said all its lockers in France remained accessible.
Amazon has remained popular in Europe even as rivals like Shein and Temu have seen rapid growth. Amazon’s app had 146 million active users in Europe in October, compared to 64 million for Shein and 51 million for Temu, according to data.ai.