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Living wage petition handed to Amazon
28.02.14 | Lisa Campbell
Demonstrators will descend on Amazon’s headquarters in London later today (28th February) to hand in a petition signed by over 55,000 people demanding the company pay its workers the Living Wage.
Campaigner Emily Kenway launched a petition on Change.org in December calling on the company to pay its warehouse workers the Living Wage, while criticising some of its reported practices, such as making employees walk up to 10 miles a shift and enforcing a “sack if your sick” policy which sees workers struck off if they call in sick three times in three months.
At 1pm, a large group of protestors will hand in the 55,000-signature-strong petition at Amazon’s offices in London’s Holborn.
At the same time today (28th February), Kenway is launching new ‘Amazon Anonymous’ campaign and website, which will act as a hub for all anti-Amazon activism.
Kenway said: “Since starting the petition in December and seeing the overwhelming feeling against Amazon, I’ve been collecting stories from real Amazon workers and ex-workers about their warehouse experiences. These stories illustrate the human cost of Amazon’s business model; a cost that is all too dear. I’ve started Amazon Anonymous with the help of friends because it’s time to take coordinated action against this company. The website will bring together the various strands of opposition to Amazon, including tax and wage campaigners, unions, and alternative vendors, to act in coalition and finally make this company see sense.”
She added: “We called it AA because we think that Amazon needs to kick its myriad bad habits, but we also want to encourage people to recognise that they can survive without Amazon: there are other vendors which don't demean their workforce, which pay taxes, and which aren't pushing prices down at the expense of the publishing industry. We think the time is coming for people to go cold turkey from Amazon and the site will send them to great alternatives.”
A package of testimonies from Amazon’s warehouse workers has been collected by Kenway to highlight the reality of working in an Amazon warehouse.
They include testimonies from workers saying they were warned off joining a union. “It was overtly said that unions would spoil the company,” one worker said. Another said: “I believe my health has been permanently harmed as a consequence of the conditions there.”
Martin Smith, National Organiser at GMB union, said: the union was campaigning with local communities, tax justice campaigners and Amazon staff to make sure the company “makes its full contribution to rebuilding the UK economy - both by paying wages its staff can live on and by paying its taxes.”
Frances and Keith Smith of Kenilworth and Warwick Books, who also began a petition against Amazon’s UK Corporation tax payments have also added their support to the campaign.
“There is a long history in this country of improving industrial relations, led by wise and forward thinking men such as George Cadbury and Joseph Rowntree, of realising that treating workers as human beings rather than as cogs in the industrial machine would create a happier, healthier and much more committed workforce.”
Kenway told The Bookseller the Amazon Anonymous campaign would build up into a bigger action later on in the year.
Read more about the Amazon Anonymous campaign and its founder here.