Amazon workers in parts of US strike amid alleged crackdown on unionisation efforts


The workers at Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, have been pushing back with sporadic protests and strikes across the United States in order to improve working conditions and wages. This also comes amid allegations that the retail giant is conducting harsh crackdowns on unionisation efforts by employees, said a report by the Guardian. 

Earlier this year, an Amazon employee Matt Litrell was distributing union fliers outside a warehouse in Campbellsville when the local police were allegedly called by one of the managers for accusing him of trespassing on company property. 

However, the officers eventually left him as he was not on Amazon’s property. Litrell claims the incident amounted to an illegal-intimidation charge which he later filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), said a media report. 

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Similarly, two workers in East Point, Georgia were fired from Amazon which they claim was in retaliation for their filing a petition and delivering it to the management. The petition in question sought higher pay and an increase in the minimum wage at the warehouse and had reportedly garnered over 300 signatures. Brandon Calloway and his co-worker were terminated two days later and they have since filed a complaint for unfair labour practice with the NLRB over the firings. 

This comes as workers have alleged that the company is conducting crackdowns on unionisation efforts while they have retaliated with protests and strikes. The conditions of Amazon workers and their unionisation movement have garnered attention worldwide however the movement has suffered quite a few setbacks including a recently lost vote at a warehouse outside New York. 

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Citing similar incidents across the US, the report by Guardian says that many employees have walked off, held strikes and filed several lawsuits against the retail giant demanding higher wages and improved working conditions. 

“I watched them change some processes that made things harder for us, but it made things faster for them, and I watched more and more of my co-workers getting injured,” said an Amazon employee, Sara Fee. This is what inspired her to demand improvements, said Fee, adding that every person working at the company is easily replaced when they are seen as a liability. 

Amazon has denied the recent allegations and in a statement to the Guardian said, “We don’t believe there is any merit to these claims filed with the NLRB, and look forward to presenting the facts as that process moves forward.” 

They added that they value employee feedback and are investing “$1 billion over the next year to permanently raise hourly pay for frontline employees and we’ll continue looking for ways to improve their experience.”

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Reports suggest that Amazon has been able to fend off major labour unions since it was first founded in 1994, especially in the US. In 2020, it came under scrutiny when media reports suggested that the retail giant’s human resources department had been monitoring employees’ listservs which were reportedly the hotspots for worker activism. 

increaseitionally, another report published in the same year suggested that Amazon’s corporate employees had participated in closed Facebook groups used by contracted drivers to track planned strikes and organise union activity. The company has since denied these claims. 

(With inputs from agencies) 

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