Amazon to cut 18,000 jobs, including in Europe

Amazon to cut 18,000 jobs, including in Europe
The the parcel sorting hangar of the first Belgian delivery centre. Credit: Belga/ Jonas Roosens

E-commerce giant Amazon announced on Thursday that it would be cutting "just over 18,000 roles," which will also result in job losses in Europe.

The company had already communicated "the hard decision" to cut some 10,000 jobs in November last year, noting that the annual planning process was not finalised and that the company expected more role reductions in early 2023. In a post on the company's website, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy confirmed that Amazon had revised its estimate upwards and "plans to cut just over 18,000 jobs."  

"This year’s review has been more difficult given the uncertain economy and that we’ve hired rapidly over the last several years," Jassy noted.

The distribution group hired heavily and expanded its activities during the pandemic to meet the explosion in demand, doubling its global workforce between early 2020 and early 2022. In November last year, it opened a Belgian distribution centre in Antwerp, where parcels will arrive from centres in France and Germany.

It is unclear whether this will impact the Belgian distribution centre as a breakdown of the job cuts was not provided. Amazon will provide further details about which employees will be impacted on 18 January.

'Uncertain times'

Jassy noted that Amazon decided to break the news of staff cuts earlier following an external leak by a source within the company: "we typically wait to communicate about these outcomes until we can speak with the people who are directly impacted."

The company, notoriously one of the fiercest anti-union employers in the US with a reputation for treating staff poorly, will provide packages that include a separation payment, transitional health insurance benefits, and external job placement support.

The cuts is another major sign of the technology sector's struggles. Last year, Amazon suffered steep losses in year-on-year income as a result of post-pandemic shopping habits and skyrocketing inflation. In its third-quarter 2022 earnings report, Amazon revealed that operating income decreased to $2.5 billion in the third quarter of 2022 compared to $4.9 billion in the same quarter last year.

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However, Jassy stressed that Amazon has "withstood uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and will continue to do so. I’m also optimistic that we’ll be inventive, resourceful, and scrappy in this time when we’re not hiring expansively and eliminating some roles."

At the end of September, the group had 1.54 million employees worldwide, not including seasonal workers hired during periods of increased activity, such as the holiday season.

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