The founder of Amazon Anonymous has hailed a great start to the campaign, with thousands of people signed up to the movement within the first 24 hours of its launch.
Activist Emily Kenway and fellow demonstrators descended on Amazon’s headquarters in London’s Holborn on Friday (28th February) to hand in a Change.org petition signed by over 55,000 people calling on Amazon to pay its warehouse workers the Living Wage.
The protestors held a huge banner reading “Amazon Delivery: 55,000 People Demand a Living Wage” as Kenway handed in a large cardboard box filled with the names of the 55,000 people to Amazon’s HQ.
Kenway said: “I told the security guard I had a delivery for Amazon. He said it would get to them.”
She added: “I am really grateful to the people who have come out here to support this today. Now they have all the company names, Amazon cannot argue that 56,000 people don’t want them to change their working practices. I think we are going to see much more pressure on Amazon and many more people turning away from it so it will need to change its ways if it wants to continue to make a profit and not receive a bad reputation.”
The petition also criticised some of Amazon’s 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.
Kenway also launched the Amazon Anonymous campaign – an umbrella website which will which will act as a hub for all anti-Amazon activism. It is called AA because campaigners to encourage people to recognise that they can survive without Amazon and there are more ethical vendors to shop at.
The campaign’s launch received a “great” reaction on social media and the number of people signed up to it was in five figures by Friday evening, Kenway said.
Friday's protest was attended by a variety of people across ages, backgrounds and professions. Lynn Owen, a retired court officer, said: “Since Emily’s petition I wasn’t aware of the working conditions of people who worked there and I am simply appalled. That this major organisation that doesn’t even pay enough taxes doesn’t give a living wage to its workers beggars belief – they are huge, I’m sure they could afford it. I used to use Amazon a lot but now I will never use it again. Instead, I will use it to look up things I want and then I will contact the company directly to buy it.”
Roy Hiscock, a chartered accountant, said Amazon’s tax affairs bothered him but not as much as the “workers rights issue”. He said: “I knew Amazon’s prices were cheap but I thought it was because they had small overheads and bought in bulk, so could afford to pass on the margin, but I didn’t realise just how bad the workers were treated. Workers rights are important.” Hiscock too said he would no longer shop at Amazon.
Frances Smith from Warwick and Kenilworth Bookshops, who launched a petition campaigning against Amazon’s low corporation tax payments in the UK last year, also came down to join the protest. She said: “In the long term I think it is in the company’s interests to treat its workers well. At the moment, they only seem interested in the short term.”
An Amazon warehouse employee who had turned up to the protest from Milton Keynes said he was inspired to come because the protest had “hit a nerve.” He said: “I am so pleased all these people have turned out to support this. Well done Emily – the girl has done good.”
The Amazon press office has yet to respond to a request for comment.
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