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EU Parliament bans Amazon lobbyists

by on29 February 2024

Workers' rights snub

The EU parliament confirmed yesterday that it would kick out Amazon lobbyists for ignoring the rights of those slaving away in Amazon warehouses.

A group of MEPs demanded the move in anger at what they say is Amazon's refusal to talk to them about the plight of those toiling in its sheds.

According to a report in Politico, Amazon was asked to attend an employment committee hearing on "Working Conditions in Amazon Warehouses" on 23 January but could not be bothered, saying they didn't have enough time (it was washing its hair, could not get a babysitter, or there was something good on TV).

After that, the committee wrote a letter to Parliament President Roberta Metsola asking the company's lobbyists to be barred from the building.

The letter said that the committee thought it was unfair for members to be hassled by Amazon while at the same time being denied by the same firm the right to speak up for European citizens and look into claims of abuse of those same citizens.

Amazon hit back at this action, saying it was "very disappointing" as the company had several times suggested that the EU visit one of its warehouses and see how happy everyone was.  

The statement denies the committee's claim that a visit to a German warehouse was turned down in December. The dates suggested by the committee fell during the busy season of December, and the statement says that different dates were offered after the seasonal rush.

The statement continued: "We remain ready to host the Committee at our sheds, including in Germany, Poland or elsewhere in the EU if they take up our offer."

The public row can be seen against the background of the ongoing and rising attempts to rein in big tech in the EU and in the US - attempts that have become more urgent in the face of changes in generative AI.

Also rising are tensions between warehouse workers and bosses across Amazon fulfilment centres in the UK, Europe and US.

Strikes happened last year during Black Friday in various EU places, and workers at UK fulfilment centres walked out in January and February this year in chase of higher hourly pay and more union power.

Last modified on 29 February 2024
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