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Amazon asked if it targets EU workers looking to unionise

Credit: Tony Webster / Flickr

Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos has been asked by the European Parliament whether his company is targeting European employees looking to unionise.

Last week, several European trade unions asked the European Commission to launch an investigation into Amazon’s efforts to spy on workers who might be partaking in union activities.

The MEPs have asked Jeff Bezos for more information on the matter in a personal letter, in which 37 Members of the European Parliament expressed their concern over “whether European trade unions, as well as local, national or European elected representatives, are affected by this approach to ‘threat monitoring’, which aims to repress collective action and trade union organising.”

“The exponential growth of Amazon’s profits since the beginning of the global pandemic does not allow you to exonerate yourself from respecting fundamental legal principles.”

Concern was raised following multiple Amazon job postings that labelled unions as “threats”, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

The job postings have since disappeared. In response, an Amazon spokesperson said that “the job post was not an accurate description of the role – it was made in error and has since been corrected”.

The posts asked for “intelligence analysts”, needed for analysing “labour organising threats against the companies” and “hostile political leaders”.

In the requirements it was mentioned that applicants should preferably speak French and Spanish, suggesting the analysts might be active in Europe as well.

Amazon, based in the United States, currently has 31 ‘fulfillment centres’ in Europe, serving as shipping centres and warehouses. The retail company reportedly ships more than 1 billion items to European customers on a yearly basis, making it “one of the biggest ecommerce companies” on the continent.

Unions generally take a complex position in the United States’ labour culture, where they are commonly seen as a threat to the interests of the company. In some cases, employees are discouraged from joining a union. Last year, Google hired an anti-union consulting firm for this purpose.

 

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

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