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Climate activists blockade Amazon distribution centres across three countries on Black Friday

CLIMATE activists blockaded 15 Amazon distribution sites across three countries today to protest the retail giant’s “exploitative and environmentally destructive business practices.”

Protesters with the Extinction Rebellion group blocked the sites in a bid to disrupt deliveries on Black Friday — one of the biggest shopping days of the year. 

The group said it intended to maintain the blockades for 48 hours, though by Friday evening police had made at least 13 arrests in three locations. 

In Britain activists targeted 13 sites, including Amazon’s largest British distribution centre in Dunfermline, Fife. 

One of the protesters involved in the action there, Maciej Walczuk, 19, said: “We have to recognise that the consumption in the global north is largely based upon the exploitation of the working class and the global South, while companies like Amazon make massive profits and contribute to worsening the climate and ecological crisis.” 

Extinction Rebellion said it wanted to highlight Amazon’s “crimes,” from “tax avoidance to the exploitation of workers, to rampant wastefulness and ecological destruction.

“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,” a spokesperson said. 

Protesters also hit Amazon sites across the world today as part of the Make Amazon Pay coalition — comprising 70 trade unions and environmental groups — global day of action.  

Amazon workers also went on strike in Germany. 

The coalition said the day of action was aimed at highlighting the company’s “abuse” of workers and the planet. 

On Friday, West Scotland MSP Katy Clark called on the Scottish government to cut ties with Amazon, which it has multimillion-pound contracts with. 

She said: “Amazon has an abysmal record when it comes to workers’ rights, sustainable environmental practices and paying their fair share of taxation. 

“Given the Scottish government’s vocal commitment to fair work, it is mystifying why it is gifting taxpayers’ money to an exploitative employer.”

An Amazon spokesperson said there was “always more to do” adding: “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 £1.55bn in 2020.”

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said: “These groups represent a variety of interests, and while we are not perfect in any area, if you objectively look at what Amazon is doing in each one of these areas you’ll see that we do take our role and our impact very seriously.

"We are inventing and investing significantly in all these areas, playing a significant role in addressing climate change with the Climate Pledge commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040, continuing to offer competitive wages and great benefits, and inventing new ways to keep our employees safe and healthy in our operations network, to name just a few.

"Anyone can see for themselves by taking a live virtual tour at our sites.”

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