Extinction Rebellion Amazon: Why is Extinction Rebellion blockading Amazon at a Doncaster warehouse on Black Friday?

Amazon’s fulfilment centre at Balby Carr Bank, Doncaster, is being blocked by a group of Extinction Rebellion activists on Black Friday (November 26).

Climate activists outside the Amazon warehouse in Doncaster on November 26.

The climate activists are disrupting the company’s business on its busiest day of the year.

The group is blocking the entrances to the business by using bamboo structures, lock-ons and banners which read ‘PEOPLE OVER PROFIT’ and ‘INFINITE GROWTH, FINITE PLANET’. Their aim is to remain there for at least 48 hours straight.

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This one blockade is part of a bigger movement by the Extinction Rebellion to target 15 Amazon fulfilment centres across the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands.

Why is Extinction Rebellion blockading Amazon?

The activists say it is to highlight Amazon’s “crimes” and note they are part of a bigger team with activists and workers from across the globe as part of the ‘Make Amazon Pay’ campaign, which demands better working conditions for employees, clear environmental commitments and for Amazon to pay their share of tax.

Extinction Rebellion states that it is doing this because it “exemplifies how the current economic system pursues endless financial growth at the expense of workers and the planet”.

They also accused Amazon, which is one of the world’s largest companies, of a list of “crimes” - from tax avoidance to the alleged exploitation of workers.

They claim that these crimes have been committed while its founder and largest shareholder, Jeff Bezos, becomes one of the richest men in the world.

What are Amazon’s alleged “crimes” according to the Extinction Rebellion?

The non-exhaustive list of “crimes” that Extinction Rebellion are accusing Amazon of are as follows:

1. Extinction Rebellion said that activities linked to the business released 60.64 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide last year, which is equivalent to more than a medium-sized country and burning through 140 million barrels of oil.

2. It says that Amazon’s business not only emits more carbon than a country the size of Denmark, but it also actively helps fossil fuel companies such as Shell, Exxon and BP to drill more oil through its Amazon Web Services.

3. The group said that while scientists warn us that companies must rapidly decarbonise, Amazon continues to lobby the US government to fight against climate legislation while telling the public they are committed to green initiatives.

4. Extinction Rebellion also claims that Amazon has a historical record of treating its workers ‘like robots’, with their data claiming nearly 1,000 ambulances were called out to UK warehouses since 2018. Allegedly, it actively stops workers from unionising, times toilet breaks and gives employees extreme and unrealistic performance targets. According to the climate activists Amazon has threatened to fire employees in the US who speak out about the company’s climate impact.

5. It said that Amazon regularly ‘destroys’ millions of items of unsold stock and returned items. According to the climate activism group, many of the products are often new and unused.

6. According to the protesters, governments are allegedly subsidising the growth of this monopoly by allowing the e-commerce giant to legally report billions of pounds of sales in a tax haven.

7. It was reported that in September 2021, Amazon, which has a market value of £1.5 trillion, released its tax figures for the previous year. Its key arm in the UK, Amazon UK Services, paid £3.8 million more in corporation tax than in 2019 despite sales increasing by £1.9 billion and profits rose to £128 million.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “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 £32 billion 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 £1.55 billion in 2020.”