Amazon’s poor social performance during the COVID19 crisis is a threat, new UNI report

Responding to Amazon’s notoriously brutal working conditions, it’s monopolistic tendencies, and poor social performance during the COVID19 pandemic, UNI Global Union is issuing Essentially Irresponsible, a new report that points out to the threats that make the tech giant’s corporate dominance and expansion a real problem for our economies and societies.

“The COVID19 crisis is radically reshaping our world, and one of its unfortunate side effects is the acceleration of Amazon’s domination of our markets and, frankly, many aspects of our lives—how we work, how we consume entertainment, how we communicate,” said Christy Hoffman UNI Global Union General Secretary. “Amazon’s impact reaches far beyond retail. The tech giant is not only an e-commerce force but also a leader in cloud computing, video streaming, virtual assistance, media, physical grocery retail, pharmacy, and it has showed ambitions to develop into wireless networks, healthcare, internet service provision. Amazon is not just a threat to workers but to those who believe in privacy and civil liberties, and a diverse marketplace So far, the company has not used its power as a force of social good—it has avoided taxes, squeezed small and medium sized businesses, dragged down labour conditions.”

The report also highlights efforts to rein in Amazon in Europe, the U.S. and India as a sign that workers, elected officials, and the community can find ways to partner to hold corporations accountable. In addition to worker unrest and union actions that have prompted changes to Amazon’s behavior in some European countries, the European Commission  launched an investigation on the Amazon Marketplace last year, the Competition Commission of India  ordered a probe for alleged violations of competition law, while in U.S. lawyers have filed complaints against Amazon’s dominant position in e-commerce and the US Congress has called on the US Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into Amazon and for Bezos to testify under oath in Congress.

“Amazon failed to listen to workers when they spoke up out of fear for their lives, said Hoffman. “In the United States, Amazon fired tech and warehouse workers who stood up for safety. In Europe, workers in Spain, Italy and France were forced to either go to the government authorities or strike to force Amazon to respect their safety. The message is clear: Amazon will do the right thing but only if organized workers, government, and civil society force its hand. Amazon must do better.”

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