MILAN – Joining the international campaign “Make Amazon Pay”, for Black Friday day: November 24th. On the same day as the confederal strike is scheduled for Northern Italy. The e-commerce giant Amazon is the recipient of a global protest, relaunched in Italy by Filcams Cgil, now in its fourth year. It is coordinated by Progressive International and UNI Global Union, who at last month’s assembly in Manchester decided to relaunch it for 2023 as well. They will ask for “not only a fairer and more dignified salary, but also a specific commitment to reduce its environmental impact and to pay in full the taxes it owes in the countries in which it operates”.
The focus of the protest in Piacenza
“Amazon takes too much – we read on the website of the movement which includes hundreds of associations – and gives back too little”. In Italy, Filcams calls to protest in particular the workers of Castel San Giovanni (PC) where, for almost two months, a mobilization has been underway which has already led the employees to carry out three days of strike on the 11th and October 17th and November 7th. The claims recalled by Filcams: “An unacceptable increase in pay given Amazon’s economic performance; the absence of forms of welfare and the failure to increase the amount of the meal voucher, the lack of attention to health and safety issues; the continuous use of disciplinary complaints for trivial reasons”.
There is a further reason why Piacenza is central. Being a protest relaunched by Filcams Cgil, it directly affects the trade and services sector. The contract applied by Amazon to the Castel San Giovanni plant, and for the workers of the Fresh service. In all other cases, over 50 plants, the transport contract applies. The invitation to participate is “aimed at everyone”, he explains Roberto Brambilla of Filcams Cgil, but it should be noted that transport is fresh from the day of mobilization – with great controversy – of 17 November. If, therefore, Brambilla says he is “confident” of obtaining a great response in Piacenza, elsewhere the membership numbers could be lower. “Even at Amazon, our couriers and plant staff have already gone on strike,” confirms Danilo Morini of Filt in reference to last Friday’s stop. It must also be considered that Filt itself signed an agreement with Amazon on the salary increase in October. And therefore no specific action is expected for the next 24.
At a global level (a couple of workers from Piacenza will go to Convetry, the scene of the international protest), the unions accuse the e-commerce multinational of three aspects:
- Amazon squeezes employees. Real wages fall as the multinational records record revenues – $121 billion in the second quarter of 2022 – and strengthens its tactics to halt industrial action;
- Amazon squeezes communities. The e-commerce giant paid no income tax in Europe in 2021 and instead received €1 billion in tax credits on €55 billion in sales;
- Amazon squeezes the planet. Despite accounting for just 1% of all product sales in calculating its emissions, the company’s 2021 CO2 emissions increased by 18%.
Amazon’s response: “Millions of good jobs created”
Accusations to which the company replies that it “disagrees”. Amazon reminds us that “it has created millions of good jobs and has helped create and support hundreds of thousands of small businesses around the world. We offer competitive salaries and benefits to our employees, with excellent career opportunities and guarantee a modern and safe working environment for everyone. We continue to invest in the countries and communities where we operate and are proud to be the largest purchasing company renewable energy in the world. This is part of our goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040, with billions already invested in reduced packaging, clean energy and electric vehicles.”
As for Italy, a spokeswoman recalls that the company “invested 16.9 billion euros in Italy and created 18,000 permanent jobs, of which around 1,700 in Castel San Giovanni alone”. If we consider “the total number of indirect jobs reaches the record figure of 100,000 including the 60,000 jobs created by small and medium-sized Italian businesses that use Amazon’s services to grow their business and export Italian products to the world” , he adds. As for safety, she adds, “our goal is to be the safest and most modern workplace in the world. We work to achieve this objective by spreading the culture of safety, supporting it with dedicated investments and projects. In 2022 alone, in Italy, we have invested around 7 million euros and provided over 400,000 hours of training”.
Finally, as regards Castel San Giovanni, the company claims to have increased the starting salary “to 1,765 euros, i.e. approximately 7% more than what was foreseen by the Ccnl”. On the possible impacts on operations, on very hot days, the company seems calm: “The Castel San Giovanni distribution center is part of our Italian and European network. We remain focused on guaranteeing our service to customers in the week of Black Friday”.