Frontline workers announce “May Day” strike over poor work conditionsMay 01, 2020 16:18
(Image source from: nytimes.com)
Amidst the restrictions and the lockdowns that have been imposed across the US, the workers from some of the biggest firms in American are going on a mass strike on Friday. The main objective of the strike is to retaliate against their employers on not being clear about the degree of seriousness of the Covid-19 in their workplace and also for the lack of protective equipment.
Several of the labor organizers at Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart, Target-owned Shipt have decided to walk out on May 01, a holiday that is commonly celebrated internationally to commemorate the hard work put in by the workers across the world.
Their demands behind this mass strike include expansion of paid sick leave, access to the protective equipment while at work, improved pay as well as following the guidelines of the social distancing norms at the workplace.
Christian Smalls, a former Amazon worker, who was fired because of organising a walkout reported that this is a matter of life or death at this point.
When the New York elected officials gained knowledge of the dismissal, they accused the company of illegal retaliation. To that, the company reported that they had to fire Smalls because of his lack of social distancing following norms.
Emily Cunningham, another employee at Amazon was fired two weeks ago said that the company has been putting them in a position where they have to choose between getting groceries, getting rent paid with potentially infecting themselves because of the lack of social distancing norms.
Cunningham further reported that Amazon has not been providing with correct number of cases. This means that the number of cases could be 2000, 200 or even 20 but they wouldn’t know what the actual figures look like.
The workers who are doing the protest believe that over 500 employees at Amazon have tested positive for the virus. Amazon, on the other hand, hasn’t disclosed the number of infected employees. The company spokesperson has even denied the claims made by the employees on protest.
On the other hand, companies like Shipt and Target have been protesting for a higher pay. They have demanded that the amount that they get for each successful order should be increased and it is necessary that they get the necessary protective equipment as well.
Angie Klein, a Shipt worker said that their pay has been getting worse instead of getting better. The stores are out of everything around and standing in line for hours and you are paid with a meagre $6.
Klein further stated saying, “I love doing it because it helps people, but I can't do it if I'm not making any money. Shipt and Target are making a killing, and they're not doing anything for shoppers."
These forms of protest are not the first during the covid-19 pandemic. Previously, several sanitation workers at Pittsburg, even bus drivers at a few states in the US have walked off from their works demanding better work condition and protective equipment.
These recent actions trail blaze across a number of other protests that have happened in history in several of the industries. The workers are protesting for better pay, improved and safer work conditions and more safety.
President Trump has also ordered the meatpacking industry to reopen that has been shut down because of Covid-19 outbreak. He has also assured to protect the businesses from any sort of liability and lawsuits in case the workers get sick at the job.
By Somapika Dutta