Amazon’s warehouses near East Midlands Airport and also two others (in Coventry and Rugeley) are being blockaded by climate activists today as part of an international campaign targeting the retailer.
Extinction Rebellion is supporting the work of a global coalition of charities, campaigning groups, unions and more, called “Make Amazon Pay”.
Activists from all over the Midlands moved onto the sites at 4am this morning, and have people “locked-on” to concrete blocks below others suspended by ropes within bamboo towers blocking access for lorries to the sites but not access for the workers themselves.
“At Amazon, we take our responsibilities very seriously. That includes our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement – providing excellent pay and benefits in a safe and modern work environment, and supporting the tens of thousands of British small businesses who sell on our store.
“We know there is always more to do, and we’ll continue to invent and invest on behalf of our employees, customers, small businesses and communities in the UK. We’re proud to have invested £32bn in the UK since 2010, creating 10,000 new permanent jobs across the country this year alone, and generating a total UK tax contribution of £1.55bn in 2020.”
Thirteen Amazon “fulfillment centres” around the UK, and other centres in the Netherlands and Germany are being roadblocked, with the aim of highlighting their business practices.
Extinction Rebellion says Amazon is responsible for a long list of widely recognised “crimes” – from tax avoidance to the exploitation of workers, to rampant wastefulness and ecological destruction. Activists say that Amazon is becoming a monopoly which already controls 15% of global online retail sales and 34% of the world’s cloud-computing capacity.
Nottingham mum, Tracy Neale (60) is one of 16 protesters who are now ‘locked on’ at the site near the airport: “I’ve joined this demonstration because we must address the massive amount of consumption and waste that’s driving the ecological crisis. If we don’t talk about what mass consumption is doing to our planet and to our society then we won’t address the planetary emergency that’s happening now – and where does that leave everybody’s children?”
The pressure on Amazon workers led to 115 ambulances being called to the Amazon site in Rugeley.  Over the same period of time a similar sized retail warehouse had only 8 ambulance call outs. Workers are not allowed to join a union or speak out about conditions while making its founder and largest shareholder, Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men on earth.
One of the protesters “locked on” at Amazon is 20-year-old Chris, who used to work for the company. “Working at Amazon gave me first hand experience of the poor treatment of its workers. With new warehouses popping up every month, taking action against Amazon has become an absolute necessity. Amazon’s business model is based on manipulating overconsumption. It’s rate of growth is phenomenal but catastrophic at a time of imminent ecological collapse. As Amazon’s empire grows, so does its exploitation. Workers live in fear of organising against this. The union busting tactics of Amazon needs to come to an end and it’s time the workers were given a proper voice in how their company is run.”
Nathan McGovern, 22, a theology student is at the Coventry site, near where he was born and raised. “I’m taking part in this action because I’m absolutely terrified of the future that awaits me and absolutely everyone I’m friends with. To me Amazon is an example of corporate greed and the gain of the few at the expense of the planet and the many. These businesses and governments just don’t care about people and the planet. I refuse to just stand by as corporations like Amazon just increase profits and increase the risk of climate collapse.” There are 11 activists locked on at Coventry.
Protest banners read “Amazon Crime”, “Infinite growth, Finite planet” and “Make Amazon Pay”  Extinction Rebellion and the Make Amazon Pay coalition are calling for shoppers who care about the environment and workers rights to boycott Amazon, and asking our government to stop Amazon’s unchecked exploitative business practices.
Extinction Rebellion provided the data below