A union is warning the tech giant against using corporate spies and Alabama-style tactics in the UK
Amazon can’t be allowed to use aggressive US-style tactics on its workforce in the UK and Ireland, a union has urged. After launching a campaign and hotline to give Amazon workers a voice, Unite has warned the tech giant against using Alabama-style tactics of union suppression closer to home.
Workers in the Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon plant voted to reject forming the company’s first-ever union after Amazon’s campaign to stop workers organising. The campaign included Amazon hiring expensive anti-union consultants, a relentless PR blitz and insisting on in-person voting in the backdrop of the pandemic.
The corporation has hired two former FBI agents for its Arizona security centre, tasked with surveilling employees and monitoring ‘labour organising threats’ to keep unions out. In Spain, a trade union is suing Amazon for allegedly using the notorious union-busting Pinkerton agency to spy on its striking workers in Barcelona.
In the UK, Amazon workers have been using the workers’ rights campaign platform Organise to fight back against their bosses and draw attention to their plight. The GMB union has called for a parliamentary enquiry into the ‘dangerous’ working conditions in Amazon warehouses after a surge in workplace injuries,
Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said: “The union in Alabama put up a brave fight in the face of a methodical anti-union campaign from Amazon. If Amazon is genuine about respecting UK workers’ rights to join and form a union, as it recently claimed, then it should make a clear commitment and sign up to a declaration of neutrality.
“Amazon must pledge not to use other anti-union tactics like spying on its workers. The intrusive surveillance tactics Amazon has employed elsewhere to prevent workers having a voice has no place in 21st Century Britain.
“The declaration of neutrality guarantees workers the freedom to talk with and form a union without fear. If the company is genuine then it should be more than happy to sign the declaration.”
The company saw its profits skyrocket during the pandemic, while founder and CEO Jeff Bezos added $70billion (£50billion) to his personal wealth in 2020.
Sophia Dourou is a freelance journalist