Before you sign on and go hog wild for Cyber Monday, take a moment to reflect where you shop.
A campaign is currently being waged for the second year in a row to pressure Amazon into paying its workers a living wage, and it’s picking up steam. The latest projections for the success of the campaign shows that the online retail giant is currently set to lose at least £2.5m this holiday season thanks to the 11,000 and counting people who have signed a pledge to boycott purchasing their holiday gifts there. And while £2.5m may not be a terribly distressing sum to Amazon, to be sure, that is where you come in.
The organization behind the Amazon-free holiday effort is Amazon Anonymous, and it helps inform people that Amazon is a tax dodger, for starters
Amazon Anonymous states:
[They] don’t pay their workers a living wage. . . They take money away from our local shops.
That is just the tip of the Amazon iceberg, to be sure. Anyone who’s read Mother Jones’ “I Was A Warehouse Wage Slave” knows a bit more of the horrors of working for Amazon. And taking business away from our local shops only helps kill local economies, which is a very real and present danger in small communities all across the U.S.
This latest campaign against Amazon in its sophomore year was launched only weeks ago this season, on Nov. 18. By Cyber Monday morning, 11,463 people had signed on to support the boycotting effort that is intended to last up through Christmas. Each day, more sign on, and you can too, if you wish to support local economies and fair wages for workers. Go ahead and give yourself the gift of a moral Christmas. You’re guaranteed to feel good about it.
Co-founder of Amazon Anonymous Bex Hay stated:
We are staggered by the response and support we’ve received from the public and soon-to-be ex-Amazon customers, as well as smaller retailers who are often undercut by Amazon’s aggressive business model. I didn’t expect it would be this big after just two weeks. I think we can double the current figure over the next few weeks as we get closer to Christmas.
Should this effort continue to build off its momentum next year, chances are it will be even more successful, especially if the organization works to educate the public over the rest of the year.
And not to leave hungry consumers in the lurch, Amazon Anonymous has also compiled a “guide to alternative retailers” along with Ethical Consumer magazine
(By the way, a subscription to Ethical Consumer magazine might make a great gift for a number of friends and family, too.)
We’ll be providing plenty of support and tips on how best to avoid Amazon, to maximize [sic] the impact and help everyone stick to their pledge. The Amazon-Free shopping guide is a first step to get through Cyber Monday unscathed.
Ethical Consumer’s Tim Hunt states that the magazine has also been waging its own boycott of Amazon for the last two years.
Amazon’s aggressive tax avoidance is doing untold damage to our high streets and their offshore shenanigans keep their UK tax payments obscenely low. In these times of austerity it is vital that corporations pay their fair share of tax, sadly it seems that Amazon are [sic] not currently doing this.
Amazon claims that it “pays all applicable taxes in every jurisdiction that it operates within” while only paying £4.2m on sales valued at £4.3bn. That may be hard to believe, but sadly it may be true. However, that only strenuously highlights how bad tax reform is needed. None of this is any different in the United States, either.
Last year marked Amazon Anonymous’ maiden voyage with the boycott effort against Amazon, brought on by angry consumers repulsed by the dismal salaries Amazon’s employees are paid. One chief issue with the company, according to such shoppers, is that Amazon “does not pay a living wage to warehouse workers.” When the initial boycott was started by Amazon Anonymous, the living wage in the U.K. was around £7.65 an hour outside the metro London area; whereas, Amazon.co.uk stated on its website:
In the UK, permanent associates start on an average of £7.39 per hour and earn up to £8.90 per hour after 24 months.
The problem there seems to be self-evident.
Efforts against Amazon in the past have yielded 65,000 signatures for a petition pressuring Amazon to provide its workers with a livable wage. Many of the criticisms launched against the company sited what folks called the “sack-if-you’re-sick” policy, offering examples such as calling in sick more than three times in a three month period, offering only 15 minutes of break time regardless of wherever workers may be located within Amazon’s ginormous warehouses, and automated work performance monitoring that results in termination if anyone does not move fast enough on the job. You have to pull merchandise from the shelves for shipping fast enough, or you’re fired.
In addition to the signatures, those behind the petition also sought to collect testimonies from Amazon workers to be delivered along with the petition. Campaigners, however, were none too happy with Amazon’s response.
Their reply explains the wage rates paid to Amazon’s permanent staff, but sidesteps the small matter of tens of thousands of temporary contract workers on poverty wages.
As a result of receiving such a shoddy response from the company, and not to be deterred, the campaigners against Amazon requested supporters and workers to email the company directly as registered complaints while simultaneously requesting the gluttonous company to “raise its baseline pay for permanent associates from £7.10/hour to the living wage rate of £7.65/hour.”
We are sending a strong message to Amazon, during their busiest time of the year, that if they don’t make a proper contribution to our society, we won’t give them our money.
One former U.S. employee of Amazon, Kivin Varghese, is even currently on his sixth day of a hunger strike outside the company’s headquarters in Seattle as he wrangles with it in a legal dispute
His reason for such a sacrifice is simply due to Amazon’s treatment of employees, and their business practices.
Day 6 of Hunger Strike. Down about 12lbs. Worked on new banner & handouts for employees. Time for @amazon board to drive change. More coming
— Kivin Varghese (@kvargs) November 30, 2014
Verghese echoes Hay in saying:
I’m calling on customers to join us in protest: don’t give your money to Amazon this holiday season – that’s the best way we can drive change. It’s time Amazon faced up to the human toll of its long-standing unethical and draconian business practices.
No doubt, you can add Walmart to that list, as well.