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Extinction Rebellion target Amazon in blockade at Doncaster warehouse

Activists block global corporation's deliveries across the UK as they say "it's the workers and planet that picks up the tab" for Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

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Extinction Rebellion activists outside Doncaster's Amazon warehouse.

Extinction Rebellion

Climate activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) are blockading an Amazon warehouse in Doncaster on one of its busiest days, in solidarity with the global Make Amazon Pay campaign.

The group says its aim is to disrupt 50% of the company’s deliveries on Black Friday, with blockades also reported at warehouses across the UK, including in Dunfermline, Newcastle, Manchester, Peterborough, Dartford, Bristol and Milton Keynes.

A press release from XR on Friday said that Amazon “exemplifies how the current economic system unsustainably exploits workers and the planet in the pursuit of endless growth.”

The campaign group noted that, by the company’s own admission, its business activities emitted more than 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year.

The Make Amazon Pay campaign describes this as “larger than two-thirds of all countries in the world,” while XR said it’s “the equivalent of burning through 140 million barrels of oil.”

Amazon has also been heavily criticised for tax avoidance, its treatment of workers, and for destroying millions of items of unsold stock and returned goods.

Amazon UK Services, the corporation’s main UK arm, paid £18.3m in tax in the year to December 2020, despite sales rising by £1.9bn to £4.85bn over the same period.

Merry, an XR activist who is blockading the Balby Carr Bank warehouse in Doncaster, said Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has “made his money by exploiting workers and destroying local businesses.”

“He may think he can escape the climate and ecological disaster he is actively accelerating by fleeing to space, but the rest of us, who are not billionaires, need governments to act to protect us and address the genocidal economic system that's driving us off a cliff."

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Extinction Rebellion

The action comes as protests across the world call on the global multinational to improve its workplaces, offer greater job security, respect workers’ rights, operate sustainably and “pay back to society.”

The Make Amazon Pay campaign is backed by several UK campaigns and unions, including War on Want, GMB Union, GMB Union, Trades Union Congress and Momentum.

Since no Amazon warehouses in the UK are unionised, its workers cannot legally go on strike.

Rosie, also at the Doncaster blockade today, said “everyone loves a bargain” – but that the “incentivised consumption” of Black Friday is “deeply flawed.”

“While thousands hit the web in pursuit of a bargain, it's the workers and planet that picks up the tab."

A statement from Amazon issued on Friday said the company takes its responsibilities “very seriously,” claiming it plans to become zero carbon by 2040.

by Sam Walby (he/him)

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