The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Holiday and Everyday Super-exploitation

Dec 11, 2017

While Amazon’s sales skyrocketed on Black Friday, strikes hit its distribution centers in Italy and Germany.

Behind every click that completes an order, there is a worker who has to prepare a package in one of Amazon’s giant warehouses. The success of this business depends on the exploitation of its workers.

At the Tilbury warehouse in Britain, workers on Black Friday had just nine seconds to fill each order. They walked ten to twelve miles with just two half-hour breaks. One worker passed out and had to be taken to the hospital. On other days, even when they don’t have a package to make-up, they’re not allowed to sit.

In Italy, the biggest of Amazon’s three distribution centers was hit by a strike on November 24. Amazon employs 1,600 workers directly plus 3,500 temp workers hired for the season. These workers are angry about their wages, which are at the legal minimum, but also about the extreme control over their breaks and over when they can go to the bathroom.

In Germany, six of Amazon’s nine centers were hit by strikes on the same day. The service workers union, Ver.di, took advantage of Black Friday to call on workers to strike against a pace of work that is damaging to their health. There had also been a strike over wages two months ago.

The 300,000 Amazon workers in the world, plus all the temps who are hired just for the season, struggle to make ends meet with their low wages and exhausting work. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos, founder, investor, and CEO of Amazon increased his fortune by 2.4 billion dollars in one day, thanks to an increase in the stock price. He now has 100 billion!

The richest man on the planet owes his wealth to being one of the biggest exploiters of the work of others.