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Taming Amazon in Poland


In Jacobin magazine, Ralf Ruckus writes about how workers at Amazon warehouses in Poland are using creative forms of labor organizing to push back against the company’s anti-union tactics. Check out an excerpt below, or the full text here.

Soon after their initial meeting, the discontented workers and the handful of Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Workers’ Initiative) activists employed at Amazon met in the Poznań fulfillment center’s parking lot to form an IP union section. While they had never engaged in this kind of labor action, warehouse workers outside the IP took the lead; the IP activists registered the union section, wrote and printed leaflets, and dealt with management. The shared experience of working at Amazon provided the basis for collaboration.

Within a year, the IP section at Amazon’s Poznań warehouse grew from 20 members to more than 350. Most are permanent shop-floor workers (a minority are temp workers, and a few are team leaders). Amazon only knows the 15 names of the elected IP shop stewards, who are statutorily protected from dismissal; the rest are kept secret to prevent management retaliation.

In early 2015, the IP section wrote and distributed leaflets discussing problems at work and information about workers’ legal rights, while other employees (some of whom were not even union members) initiated petitions that at times received hundreds of signatures. The petitions dealt with workers’ main grievances — low wages, rising quotas, changes in shift schedules, and working on public holidays.

Image: An Amazon “fulfillment center.”