Practical solidarity for a world that puts people first

Will Amazon’s Shareholder Meeting stand up for human rights?

Amazon.com human rights

Amazon.com are hosting their annual shareholder meeting in Seattle today. Our friends corporate responsibility campaign group SumOfUs will be there too.

They’ve managed to get a motion into the votes that will be taken at the meeting, calling on Amazon to conduct a review of how their business impacts on the human rights of their workers and those in their supply chains.

As SumOfUs’ motion points out:

“There is increasing recognition that company risks related to human rights violations, such as reputational damage, project delays and disruptions, and litigation, can adversely affect shareholder value … Amazon’s business model exposes the company to significant human rights risks. Amazon’s focus on ever increasing targets and efficiency in its fulfillment centers has reportedly caused significant medical problems for its employees including heat stroke and heat exhaustion … Amazon received a grade of D in a recent report about supply chain abuses, which alleges that the company does not pay a local living wage and is unable to trace the source of many component materials for products like its Kindle … Human rights risk assessment and reporting would help Amazon to identify and mitigate human rights risks and would allow shareholders to understand their potential impact on shareholder value.”

Unsurprisingly the Amazon board of directors doesn’t agree and has urged shareholders to vote against the motion, saying:

“We are committed to providing a safe and fair working environment to all of our employees globally. Any complaints about the working conditions at Amazon or any alleged violation of law are thoroughly investigated by the Company.”

As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos opened his annual letter to shareholders: “A dreamy business offering has at least four characteristics. Customers love it, it can grow to very large size, it has strong returns on capital, and it’s durable in time – with the potential to endure for decades”. But as we’ve seen in the UK, as Amazon grows in size, and grows the number of low paid, insecure jobs it offers in its massive warehouses, more and more workers may end up finding it more akin to a nightmare.

There are four things you can do right now to help raise the pressure at the shareholder meeting and beyond:

1

Send a tweet. We’ve made it easy for you, just click the button to send a message to the AGM. Or write your own, including @Amazon in the tweet, to get their attention.

2

Add your name to SumOfUs’ call on Amazon to clean up its act

3

Watch and share the shareholder meeting campaign video from UK activist group Amazon Anonymous.

4

Sign the GMB petition for living wages, decent work and a chance to organise.

10 Jun 15

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