Labor rights activists and climate campaigners across Europe used the occasion of Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, to call attention to and protest Amazon's "appalling" working conditions, paltry benefits, and destructive environmental practices.
"Workers are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious, and being taken away in ambulances," said Mick Rix, national officer with the GMB Union, which organized demonstrations at Amazon warehouses across the United Kingdom on Friday.
"Amazon has spent a fortune on fluffy adverts saying what a great place it is to work," Rix added. "Why not spend the money making their warehouses less dangerous places to work? Amazon workers want Jeff Bezos to know they are people—not robots."
GMB said Amazon employees at locations throughout the U.K. have reported being denied restroom breaks, penalized for taking sick days, and forced to work at a dangerous pace to meet the retail behemoth's productivity goals.
"GMB members report targets being so horrific they have to use plastic bottles to urinate in instead of going to the toilet, and pregnant women have been forced to stand for hours on end," the union said in a statement.
In France, demonstrators held sit-ins at Amazon's Clichy headquarters to condemn the retail giant's contributions to the climate crisis.
"We criticize Amazon for having a destructive policy for the planet, for social conditions, and Black Friday allows this company to achieve exponential revenue," said activist Sandy Olivar Calvo.
At an Amazon distribution center near Lyon, France, police assaulted and forcibly removed demonstrators who staged a sit-in to condemn the corporation's climate practices: