Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Madrid’s Amazon Workers Strike Over Rights and Wages

Amazon workers in the Spanish State are fed up and ready to fight. Last night at 10 p.m., 95% of the workforce in the largest logistics center in the country owned by Amazon have walked off the job to protest against planned wage cuts.

Sonja Krieger

March 21, 2018
Facebook Twitter Share

Last week, 75% of the workers voted for a 24-hour strike in response to Amazon’s efforts to make life harder for its employees. The workers also called for a boycott of Amazon products from March 14-22 in order to affect Father’s Day, which was on March 19.

Now, almost all of the close to 2,000 full-timers (1,100) and temporary workers (900) at the San Fernando de Henares center in suburban Madrid are on strike. While there have been similar actions organized recently by Amazon workers in France, Italy, and Germany, this is the first strike at Amazon in the Spanish State.

Several unions (CCOO, CGT, UGT, and CSIT) called the strike after Amazon decided to replace the current contract with a new contract (the provincial agreement for the logistics sector) that would involve cuts to overtime pay as well as a pay reduction for night shifts and work on holidays, a considerable cut in sick pay, a total elimination of seniority-based wage increases, and lower general wage increases that do not even keep up with inflation.

The workers are facing massive intimidation from the bosses. There are reports that Human Resources is having individual meetings with workers to ask them if they will be striking and telling them they will have to be on call next weekend to work 9-18 hours on their day off. But the workers are not deterred. At 5:30 a.m., there were pickets to stop trucks from leaving, and a rally was held at noon.

In order to diminish the effects of the strike, Amazon began diverting packages to neighboring countries. However, workers across Europe have shown support for the strike. In Poland and Germany, Amazon workers sent solidarity. In Germany, the largest warehouses announced that they will engage in a work stoppage in solidarity with the workers in the Spanish State.

Jeff Bezos is the world’s wealthiest person with a personal net worth of over $100 billion, accumulated through the sweat and hardship of Amazon workers. A worker at the San Fernando de Hanares warehouse now makes between $25,000 and $26,000 (€20,000-21,000) per year and has not seen an increase in pay since 2016. Bezos and his company want to reduce that by €1000-2000.The working conditions at Amazon in Europe and the U.S. are already nothing short of torturous or even murderous.

Workers are expected to package products at insane speeds, lift heavy items, and meet unrealistic quotas while being constantly monitored. Perpetual exhaustion and overwork are apparently what Amazon means when it boasts that it offers “attractive jobs.”

Various reports have revealed that bathroom breaks are too short, workers are discouraged from sitting down during ten-hour shifts, and there is little or no natural light in the centers. An article published in November of 2017 quotes a worker in Essex, UK saying, “Two half-hour breaks were the only time off my feet, but it was barely enough time to race to the canteen and wolf down some food to keep my energy up.”

According to the undercover investigator who wrote the piece, some workers sleep outside near the warehouse in order to make it to work on time, and almost everybody suffers regular physical injuries and acute anxiety.

This is what capitalism looks like. Amazon will not change their barbarous practices on its own, and neither will any other capitalist enterprise. The only way for workers to fight against this exploitation is to stand up, stop working, and demand their rights.

Facebook Twitter Share

Sonja Krieger

Sonja has been an editor and writer for Left Voice since 2016. She teaches college students and is an active AFT member.

Europe

Protesters march alongside a huge banner that reads Insurgiamos

The ‘Insorgiamo!’ Movement in Italy: Take Back a Factory, Organize a City, Fight for Everything

On Sunday, May 15, a national public assembly organized by the “Insorgiamo!” — “We are Rising up!” — movement will be held in Florence, Italy. The movement began with the struggle against a factory closure and the workers’ efforts to reopen it, and from there has taken up other social demands.

A New Phase of the War in Ukraine

Russia’s war in Ukraine has entered its third month. Putin’s failure to win a quick victory, while NATO-armed Ukraine resists but cannot defeat the Russian invasion, has led to a stalemate — one that is deepening the international character of the conflict and thus the risk of escalation.

Claudia Cinatti

May 2, 2022
French President Emmanuel Macron raises his fist in front of a crowd of supporters waving French flags.

Macron, the ‘President of the Rich,’ Reelected in France Amid Record Abstention

Emmanuel Macron has won a second term as president of France in an election marked by record abstention. As he prepares to continue his war against French social gains, the Far Right is consolidating its base in opposition to the failures of Macronism. Building a bloc of resistance is now more urgent than ever.

Damien Bernard

April 25, 2022

Thousands Take to the Streets in France against the Far Right, Many Reject Both Le Pen and Macron

More than 10,000 people demonstrated in Paris on April 16 against the Far Right. Students blamed the government for the Right’s rise, rejected a lesser-evil vote for Macron against Le Pen in the second round of voting on April 24, and called for preparing a “third social round” to protect the gains of the French people.

Mahdi Ali

April 20, 2022

MOST RECENT

Somali troops stand in formation during a graduation ceremony after being trained by U.S. forces in Mogadishu on Aug. 17, 2018.

Biden Is Expanding U.S. Military Intervention in Somalia

President Biden recently approved an order to send hundreds of troops to Somalia. This move serves the interests of U.S. imperialism by taking advantage of the very political instability it helped create.

Sam Carliner

May 20, 2022
Semi-empty store shelf with a few cans of baby formula.

The Baby Formula Shortage Is a Capitalist Crisis of Social Reproduction

The baby formula shortage is a consequence of capitalism and a crisis of social reproduction. Formula should not be commodified and sold — it should be free and a basic right for all parents.

People protest in support of the unionizing efforts of the Alabama Amazon workers, in Los Angeles, California, March 22, 2021.

Amazon Won’t Stop Union Busting and Firing Organizers

Amazon hasn't recognized the Amazon Labor Union and, like Starbucks, is continuing to union bust and fire organizers.

Luigi Morris

May 20, 2022
A protester waves a sign that read "unionize" near the Country Club Plaza Starbucks store where dozens of Starbucks employees and union supporters protested alleged anti-union tactics by the company Thursday, March 3, 2022.

El Paso Starbucks Workers Are Organizing in the Face of Relentless Union Busting

Starbucks’s preemptive union-busting tactics in El Paso, Texas, have backfired and inspired workers at the Fountains to unionize.

Paul Ginestá

May 20, 2022