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Striking Amazon staff could halt Prime Day in one US state

Photo by Bryan Angelo on Unsplash

Amazon warehouse staff in one location have announced plans to stage a strike on arguably the biggest day of the year for the online behemoth.

The industrial action will take place on July 15 – the start of the two-day Amazon Prime Day sales event – at the warehouse in Shakopee, Minnestota in the United States.

The staff plan six hours of strikes next Monday, seeking less stringent quotas during working hours, and for more of temporary staff to be hired as permanent employees. The strike comes despite the firm’s recent vow to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, following political pressure spearheaded by Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

“Amazon is going to be telling one story about itself, which is they can ship a Kindle to your house in one day, isn’t that wonderful,” said organiser and staff member William Stolz told Bloomberg. “We want to take the opportunity to talk about what it takes to make that work happen and put pressure on Amazon to protect us and provide safe, reliable jobs.”

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“The fact is Amazon offers already what this outside organization is asking for. We provide great employment opportunities with excellent pay – ranging from $16.25-$20.80 an hour, and comprehensive benefits including health care, up to 20 weeks parental leave, paid education, promotional opportunities, and more,” an Amazon spokesperson told Trusted Reviews.

“We encourage anyone to compare our pay, benefits, and workplace to other retailers and major employers in the Shakopee community and across the country – and we invite anyone to see for themselves by taking a tour of the facility.”

The retailer has also described the allegations as “baseless”, adding that “on average” 90 percent of Amazon associates at the Shakopee fulfillment center are full-time Amazon employed.

The announcement of the strike comes after a damning profile of the retailer on HBO’s news magazine show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which castigated the firm over working conditions at fulfilment centres.

Oliver labelled Amazon the ‘Michael Jackson of the warehouse industry’ because the company is “the best at what they do, everybody tries to imitate them, and nobody who learns a third thing about them is happy they did.”

Amazon labelled the 21-minute report as “insulting” to the firm’s warehouse employees

While a six hour strike at one of the company’s many warehouse facilities in the United States is unlikely to disrupt the Prime Day event too much, the action is definitely worth keeping an eye on in the next few days.

Should staff at other facilities organise and follow suit, Amazon’s ability to handle and dispatch orders swiftly would come under serious threat.

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