Campaign group launches 'Amazon Free' shopping guide

Campaign group launches 'Amazon Free' shopping guide

Independent booksellers and WH Smith feature on an “alternative” shopping guide for Christmas created by campaign group Amazon Anonymous.

The group has teamed up with Ethical Consumer to create an alternative shopping guide for those who have signed up to its “Amazon Free Challenge” – in which people pledge to give up shopping on Amazon from today (1st December) until after Christmas.

Alternative book retailers recommended by the group, based on how they treat their workers and where they register their tax returns, are independent booksellers, WH Smith, radical booksellers found through the Radical Bookshops directory, Better World Books and Green Metropolis, which sells secondhand books online. Gardners’ Hive store also features on a list of alternative places to buy DVDs.

Amazon Anonymous asked people to sign up to its Amazon Free campaign last month as a protest about how little corporation tax the company pays in the UK, because it bases its headquarters in Luxembourg. The group is also protesting about how the company treats its warehouse workers and is calling on Amazon to pay employees the Living Wage, which is set at £7.65 an hour outside London.

Over 10,000 people have already joined the Amazon Free Challenge and it has calculated the company will lose £2.5m from those shoppers this Christmas, after those people declared how much money they would usually spend on the website.  

Bex Hay from the Amazon Anonymous campaign, said: “We are sending a strong message to Amazon, during their busiest time of the year, that if it doesn’t make a proper contribution to our society, we won’t give them our money. They don’t pay their workers a living wage…They take money away from our local shops. So this year, we’re taking our money away from them.”

The campaign group was set up last year after founder Emily Kenway gathered 65,000 signatures on a petition calling on Amazon to pay its workers the living wage which is set at £7.65 an hour outside London.   Her petition also criticized some of the company’s other practices, such as a sack-if-you're-sick policy which sees workers fired if they take three sick breaks in a three-month period, giving workers 15 minute breaks that start wherever they are in the giant warehouses, monitored toilet breaks and compulsory overtime.

Amazon has previously said that permanent employees start at a minimum of £7.10 per hour increasing to a median of £8.00 per hour after 24 months.

“In addition, after one year all permanent associates receive stock grants which over the past five years have added an average of 12% to base pay annually. Other benefits for permanent employees include private medical insurance, a company pension plan, life assurance, income protection and an employee discount.” The spokesperson added: “Temporary associates earn more than 90% of Amazon permanent employees’ starting wages in their first 12 weeks. After this point, they receive the same pay as permanent associates.”

Amazon revealed over the weekend that this year’s Black Friday, which took place on 28th November, was the busiest day on record for the UK arm of the retailer and “surpassed all expectations”.

More than 5.5m products were ordered, with 64 items being sold per second on the day, it said.

Amazon has yet to respond to a request for comment on the Amazon Anonymous campaign.