April 20, 2023

Amazon Transatlantic Networking

Florian Wilde

Amazon Workers International (AWI) met at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Geneva

From 20 to 23 January 2023, around 30 Amazon workers and supporters from seven countries gathered for an Amazon Workers International (AWI) meeting sponsored by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation at the offices of RLS in Geneva. The meeting was attended by ver.di union members and Leipzig’s Streik-Solidaritäts-Bündnis from Germany, SUD Solidairs from France, Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Workers’ Initiative, IP) from Poland, Confederación General del Trabajo (General Workers’ Confederation, CGT) from Spain, Amazonians United (AU) from the US, a trade union currently being established in Belgium, and by the Social Strike Alliance from Italy. Invited trade-unionists from Turkey and India had to cancel at the last minute.

The meeting provided the opportunity for meetings and networking, including with other parties, as it was attended for example, by a representative of the #MakeAmazonPay campaign of Progressive International and, on an ad hoc basis, by a long-standing IndustriALL employee. Moreover, a meeting with Nick Rudikoff took place, who is the coordinator of the Amazon campaign by the global union umbrella organisation UNI Global Union, which includes member unions to which some AWI activists are affiliated, while other AWI activists are members of unions which are outside UNI. Established in 2015 as a transnational grassroots trade union network, AWI meets every six months for networking meetings. However, until now, hardly any workers from outside Europe have been able to take part. Thus, the fact that four workers from the US and two from Canada were able to attend the Geneva meeting was particularly noteworthy.

Gathering in front of the RLS Geneva Office

The topics discussed at the meeting included the working conditions in the individual countries, the current wave of dismissals and the group’s attempts to get their hands on the last mile by offering courier services.

The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation presented its ten-year project around the long struggle of Amazon employees, its subsequent project Organizing for Power, starting on 2 February (a global online training program offered in numerous languages) and offered the use of its 5th Conference on Trade Union Renewal (“Strike Conference”, 12-14 May, Bochum), as it had been used in the past, as a platform for Amazon networking. Finally, the possible development of an Amazon-specific Organizing for Power training programme was discussed.

Action to mark the tenth anniversary of the strikes at Amazon in Germany, other Black Friday actions in November, as well as other activities yet to be announced, were agreed. The workers also used the meeting, among other things, for a solidarity action with the first strike at Amazon in the UK on 25 January this year.

The participants were very positive when rating the meeting and unanimously expressed the wish to continue with their cooperation with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Jan Leidecker, head of the RLS’ Geneva office, was also satisfied: “The meeting was a true step forward for the workers who organize Amazon labour forces all over the world. It’s great that we can make this possible. At the same time, the inclusion of the global south remains a mammooth task to achieve”.

By supporting the meeting, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation also hopes to contribute to carrying on the work of Amazon employee, verdi activist and AWI founder Christian Krähling, who died young in 2020.

See also the interview with Vanessa Carrillo of Amazonians United on the AWI’s Geneva meeting in junge Welt.

By Florian Wilde