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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 September 2020

Fight Amazon's anti-union spies

Amazon van, photo Tdorante10/CC

Amazon van, photo Tdorante10/CC   (Click to enlarge)

A GMB union rep

Amazon is spying on its 'flex' drivers in dozens of Facebook groups in the US, the UK, and Spain, according to the Vice Media Group. Flex drivers are the workers who deliver the items to your door.

The issue first came to light after Amazon posted it was hiring two intelligence analysts to track organising efforts within the company. One of the listings said the company needed an analyst that can keep an eye on sensitive and confidential topics "including labour organising threats against the company". While the two listings mentioned other threats, they focused mainly on organised labour, which was mentioned several times.

Amazon has since said the wording of the listings was not an "accurate description of the role" and had since been corrected, although these new versions cannot be found.

Vice say they have proof that shows Amazon is systematically monitoring, categorising and analysing the nominally closed social media pages utilised by their flex drivers. They are independent contractors who deliver packages and groceries for Amazon and Whole Foods using their own vehicles.

They do not receive health care benefits, sick pay, overtime pay, or other compensation or benefits guaranteed to Amazon employees. Amazon also relies on contracted workers employed by small companies known as delivery service partners to deliver packages.

Closed Facebook groups have been used by gig workers who work for a wide swathe of companies to organise workers and strikes across vast disjointed workforces.

It is vital that workers are organised in trade unions that fight for democratic rights which include the right to be active in your union free from company and police spies, subversion and blacklisting.


Big corporations spying on their workforce is nothing new. In the UK, in 1919, an organisation called the Economic League was set up. The League's running costs were funded by contributions from various companies.

According to the Labour Research Department, the League had an income of 266,000 in 1968 (equivalent of 4,600,000 in 2020). These contributions came from 154 known companies, with 21 known banks and financial institutions contributing as much as the 47 known manufacturing companies.

This organisation eventually broke up in 1993 after blacklisting thousands of workers in these companies. A descendant of the League, the Consulting Association, similarly blacklisted thousands of building workers.

As a union rep in the 1980s I was told personally by my HR manager that he could sack me and ensure I never worked again.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 9 September 2020:


Coronavirus news

Fight the schools Covid crisis

Safety overridden in drive to bolster the economy

Caerphilly lockdown puts profits before safety

Under the microscope


Campaigns and party news

Jobs, training, pay, we want a future!

Dover: Solidarity with refugees - applause and cheers for socialist ideas to unite working class

BLM: Socialist alternative to racist capitalism

Big push to hit finance target


News

15% now - unions must fight for NHS pay rise

Callous Tories threaten not to uprate the minimum wage

XR blockade: Don't let the Tories criminalise protest

Grenfell fire inquiry stops victims attending

Video game developer attacks Black Lives Matter


What we think

U-turn Tories' splits are growing


Workplace news

Fight Amazon's anti-union spies

NSSN rally: Workers must not pay the price of Covid

Nottingham City Council: The (mis)adventures of Robin Hood Energy

Covid-19 pandemic increases financial pressures on Welsh local government

Ireland: Debenham's workers occupy stores

Hull: Defend Tony Smith!

Reinstate Richie Venton


Unison

A critical election for Unison general secretary


TUSC

Back at work! TUSC to stand in elections again against pro-austerity politicians


International news

Belarus: Mass opposition continues to defy repression by Lukashenko's regime

Strike wave marks new stage in revival of Iranian workers' movement


 

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