More than 30 people have been arrested after climate change activists blocked Amazon warehouses in the United Kingdom on Black Friday, the busiest day of the year for the retailer.
Extinction Rebellion targeted 13 UK sites, including Amazon’s largest distribution center in Dunfermline, Fife. It said it was to draw attention to alleged exploitation of Amazon workers and wasteful business practices.
Amazon said that it took its responsibilities very seriously. The campaign group was said to have blocked multiple entrances using bamboo structures, banners, and lock-on and had planned to stay for at least 48 hours.
However, a couple of the blockades were cleared by mid-afternoon. The demonstrations began at 4PM at the Dunfermline warehouse, where about 20 activists stopped lorries entering the site and some from leaving.
Protests hit Amazon on Black Friday
The group also targeted sites in Doncaster, Darlington; Altrincham, Greater Manchester; Gateshead; Peterborough; East Midlands Airport, Leicestershire; Coventry; Rugeley, Staffordshire; Dartford, Kent; Bristol; Tilbury, Essex; and at Ridgmont, close to junction 13 of the M1 in Bedfordshire.
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A spokesman said that the action is intended to draw attention to Amazon’s exploitative and environmentally destructive business practices, disregard for workers’ rights in the name of company profits, as well as the wastefulness of Black Friday, according to BBC.
Among those affected by the blockade was haulage firm J R Dixon, based in Workington, Cumbria, which said that one of its drivers was unable to leave the depot in Tilbury.
Phil Clarke, from the firm, said it meant the driver might not be able to get to Warrington for deliveries or get home for the weekend. He said that the knock-on effect of these protests is harming businesses and people’s private lives.
Protesters at Rugeley said that it was non-violent action, and there were about eight people on a bamboo structure, two on top and six on the concrete structure at the bottom, according to CNBC.
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Alice Martin, part of the group, said that they wanted to highlight Amazon’s use of loopholes to avoid tax and its destruction of unsold products, including electronic items, according to Reuters.
Martin said that they also have witnesses and people working inside that have been reporting workers being exploited, being on difficult shifts for long hours with low wages, so that is all the things that they want to highlight.
A 22-year old protester, Nathan McGovern, was stationed in Coventry. He said that he and fellow protesters were disrupting and stopping any lorries from exiting and entering this facility. He said that they did this, because of Amazon’s complicity and contribution to the climate crisis.
McGovern said that they were hoping to stay for 48 hours, but it was up to individuals if they wanted to stay for that entire time.
In Darlington, an unnamed protester said that they were aware they had upset quite a few people today, but they had lobbied their MPs, and had tried using usual avenues and nothing is changing.
Extinction Rebellion said the blockade was part of an international action that would also target Amazon fulfillment centers in the US, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Last year, protesters rallied outside Amazon’s former CEO Jeff Bezos’ mansion over the unfair wages of its employees.
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Written by Sophie Webster
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