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(RNS) — With Amazon’s flagship sale, known as Prime Day, underway, Muslim workers and faith-based activists are leading major strikes and boycotts to protest working conditions during the online retail giant’s biggest event of the year.
Joining employee protests in four countries and other U.S. states, Amazon warehouse workers in Minnesota, working with Muslim and East African worker advocacy groups, have walked out in hopes of gaining improvements in benefits, pay and quality of life while at work, including accommodations for their religious practices.
Amazon - Jobs - Opportunities - Pay - Safiyo
“Amazon tells the public that we have jobs opportunities and better pay,” Safiyo Mohamed, who works at an Amazon fulfillment center warehouse in Shakopee, Minnesota, told MPR News. “That doesn’t mean anything if you’re mistreated; it doesn’t mean anything if your employer doesn’t respect you.”
Strikes at Minnesota fulfillment centers, led by Mohamed and other largely East African Muslim workers, began Sunday (July 14) with help from the Awood Center, a Minnesota-based worker advocacy group.
Amazon - US - Employer - Walmart - Fire
Amazon, the second-largest U.S. employer after Walmart, has come under fire in recent years over reports of grueling working conditions. Warehouse workers say they are made to clock in long hours of intense labor and pressured not to take bathroom or water breaks.
“We can only conclude that the people who plan to attend events today are simply not informed,” an Amazon spokesperson told media. “As a company, we work hard to provide a safe, quality working environment for the 250,000 hourly employees across Amazon’s U.S. facilities.”
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Employees and activists say the sale and Amazon’s promise of one-day delivery for many products will further pressure workers to keep up with demand.
In March, Minnesota workers went on strike for three hours to push for better working conditions. Last year, when Prime Day fell during Ramadan, workers requested more time for prayer and reduced workloads while fasting.
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