Thanksgiving weekend 2018 will go down as a historic event for Amazon: It was the company’s biggest shopping event in history, with shoppers ordering a record 180 million items over the five-day period. Cyber Monday alone broke company records as Amazon’s biggest shopping day ever.
But the weekend was not just about sales. Shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday come with a serious human cost, particularly for Amazon warehouse workers. While hundreds of millions of people around the globe were placing Amazon orders, the company’s European workers were staging strikes in an effort to protest wages and poor work conditions.
In England, workers protested outside five major Amazon warehouses, starting at 6:30 am on Black Friday; the protestors shouted chants like, “Next-day delivery should not mean a lifetime of pain for Amazon workers,” according to reports covering the protests.
In Germany, about 600 workers walked out of their warehouses in the towns of Bad Hersfeld and Rheinberg, according to Reuters. In Vercelli, Italy, managers had to pack boxes after workers walked out of the facility, according to Italian press.
In Spain, the trade union organization CCOO told the Associated Press that 90 percent of workers at a warehouse near Madrid staged a walkout on Friday and Saturday, leaving only two people to staff the loading dock. (In a statement to Vox, Amazon denied these claims, saying that the “on Friday, the majority of our associates at Amazon’s Fulfillment Center in [Madrid] were working and processing our customers’ orders, as they do every day.”)