15 August 2014 – The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has vowed to keep a close eye on the online retailer Amazon due to its ongoing failure to provide better working conditions and collective agreements.
The ITF will work with UNI Global Union to organise and coordinate solidarity action to help workers in their fight for decent working conditions and collective bargaining agreements.
Amazon employs around 88, 000 workers worldwide. In the US, Amazon has decided to engage their own employees to carry out deliveries, in order to be independent from companies that are bound by collective bargaining agreements.
In Germany, Amazon is not prepared to enter into collective bargaining, despite strike action being organized recently on an even larger scale at multiple locations.
Christine Behle, head of transport at Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (ver.di) condemned Amazon for providing substandard pay, health-damaging working conditions, permanent monitoring and extreme pressure to perform.
“Amazon is changing the face of the logistics industry, with bad results for workers, ” she said.
“In Germany there have been strikes in several warehouses, but Amazon says it will now move its distribution to Poland. We need to have an international strategy for this company.”
Many Amazon employees in Europe and the US are joining unions and are increasingly participating in strike action organised by their unions to fight for their rights.
However, global organising campaigns are needed to boost the current level of union organisation amongst all employees of delivery companies working for Amazon.
ITF global head of supply chain and logistics, Ingo Marowsky said logistics workers were now integrated into global supply chains with complex power structures.
“Unions need to target the ‘real employer’ who has the power to change terms and conditions across the chain, ” he said.
“That’s why the ITF has created a new unit for supply chain campaigning. We are building new alliances, and tapping into the power of unions in industries like retail, manufacturing, and energy.”
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said the global union movement has all the tools to build power across supply chains.
“When you look at what the ITF has achieved in the Flag of Convenience (FOC) campaign, using the joint power of dockers and seafarers, there is absolutely no reason why we can’t build power in global supply chains, ” he said.
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) general secretary Sharan Burrow said her organization was fully behind the global union federations with these important campaigns.
“The ITF, along with UNI Global Union, is leading the way on logistics organising with the DHL campaign. It is also very important that the global movement develops an effective strategy to organise Amazon.
The French affiliate of UNI Global Union – Confédération générale du travail (CGT) – recently went on strike over better working conditions, with the full support of ver.di and the ITF.
The 43rd ITF Congress in Sofia brings together almost 2, 000 participants from 379 unions in 116 countries.