Don't be a Prime Day scab

Industrial action by Amazon warehouse staff is a warning about the consequences of convenvience

With Amazon staff around the world taking industrial action, today’s Amazon Prime Day is not just the tech giant’s celebration of convenience, it’s also a warning about its consequences.

Although the strikes have not been centrally coordinated, the fact that we are seeing workers everywhere, from the U.S. to the U.K., Germany, Poland and Spain, all walking out at the same time, underlines that the ‘post-nation’ world inculcated by tech companies like Amazon can actually bolster worker solidarity at the same time as facilitating the continuing flows of capital.

It’s also important to see these protests in the context of movements from inside Silicon Valley. Although it’s tempting to see strikes by warehouse staff as distinct from action taken by Product Managers and Engineers working in California, this is arguably an example of how shared interests are starting to emerge across those doing different types of work - and, by extension, those that might typically appear to have quite different class interests.

What to read about the Prime Day strikes

This article in EndGadget is a great insight into the strike taking place at Shakopee in Minnesota. "The biggest ask we have is to have Amazon reduce the speeds that we have to work," one of the workers is quoted as saying. "It is physically, mentally exhausting. That leads into other issues like injuries, since you have to do things very fast, and with repetitive motions, all day long."

For a broad overview of the strikes that are happening around the world, this on Quartz is very good. It also features an interesting and somewhat aggressive response from Amazon that suggests the company is extremely worried about the impact of this level of labour organisation:

“Events like Prime Day have become an opportunity for our critics, including unions, to raise awareness for their cause, in this case, increased membership dues. These groups are conjuring misinformation to work in their favor, when in fact we already offer the things they purport to be their cause”

What should you do?

Don’t be a scab: don’t buy from Amazon during Prime. This kind of initiative only puts more strain on exploited workers, and only encourages the Amazon leadership to continue in this vein.

There’s got to be a better way for everyone: Amazon doesn’t seem to want one, so why should we want Amazon?