This sends a clear statement of workers’ determination to escalate their struggle, hitting one of the company’s most profitable days.
Today, from 6am, nine Socialist Appeal comrades from the Warwick and Coventry branches attended the morning picket line.
Comrades have been to these pickets many times before. We were therefore welcomed by the workers, leading to some productive political conversations, and to multiple paper sales.
The image of the Palestinian flag on the paper caused many workers to actually approach us, wanting to discuss the situation in Gaza. From there, comrades linked the struggle at Amazon to the wider fight against imperialism and capitalism.
Following the initial rally, workers marched round the distribution centres. Our comrades often led the chants, with workers giving us megaphones to shout slogans with them.
The speeches given by the workers themselves demonstrated their growing militancy within this dispute.
This picket was part of an international day of action across Amazon, combining disputes in Germany, USA, Britain, and elsewhere.
Workers from across the world have joined forces to assert that this is not just a national fight, but an international one – a class war. This led to chants of “when we are united, we will win”.
We have been to many of the pickets at the Coventry warehouse, and this was far and away the most radical. We witnessed workers lining up to join the union. The Amazon struggle is clearly growing and radicalising!
Amongst our many conversations with those at Amazon’s largest site, we recently spoke to ‘G’, a long-time worker with the company, who told us what has been happening, and what the mood has been like.
Beyond the demand for a £15 pay rise, G made it clear that the fight is not only about pay.
From poorly-designed mandatory work boots; to poor-quality canteen food; not to mention the extreme daily – and in some cases hourly! – targets that Amazon workers have to fulfil: there are a lot of wrongs that the workers hope to put right.
G mentioned how, since he originally started, the so-called “performance development framework” that generates these targets has intensified. Targets have increased by 50% compared to previous years.
He told us that he himself has been forced to take bouts of long-term leave, due to developing musculoskeletal problems. This is not uncommon amongst experienced Amazon employees.
The company scandalously justifies this intense environment by arguing that workers should strive to be like “industrial athletes”, developing a strong degree of physical fitness and endurance!
But workers typically face intense 9-hour workdays, with only a 25 minute break on each shift. Babbling about “industrial athletes” is an insult.
Only the start
From Dickensian conditions to mass tax-avoidance: Amazon’s methods represent nothing new. All of this is standard practice for monopoly capitalists. What is remarkable is the scale.
As a result of these brutal practices by the bosses, Bezos’ profits have tripled over the last year alone, from £2.9bn to £9.9bn.
Despite this, the Amazon workers are determined to take on this Goliath. This struggle is only just beginning. The labour movement must back it to the hilt. Victory to the Amazon strikers!