Extinction Rebellion protesters cause Black Friday chaos at Amazon

An activist from the Extinction Rebellion climate change group sits on a giant wooden rocket as they block the exit to an Amazon distribution centre in Tilbury

Credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon was targeted on its busiest shopping day of the year as Extinction Rebellion protesters closed off sites, leading to cancelled shifts and the prospect of late deliveries.

The environmental group blockaded 13 of Amazon’s 21 warehouses, including its largest in Dunfermline, in a series of Black Friday demonstrations.

Staff were told not to come in for the afternoon shift at a warehouse in Peterborough due to the protests. Those at another centre in Rugeley, Staffordshire, were forced to park at a local supermarket to get into work, with operations said to have ground to a halt.

Amazon, famous for its promise of one-day delivery, said it was making adjustments to limit disruption to deliveries. 

The company said: “We have a large network of sites across the UK and are working to minimise any potential disruption to customers."

The demonstrations disrupted traffic in areas around the centres, and led to at least 13 arrests after protesters erected bamboo structures at the warehouses’ road entrances.

Amazon told staff: “We are currently reviewing the measures we have in place to make sure you feel secure as you start or leave your shift and to ensure your safe entry and exit from the site. For your own safety, please do not engage with the protesters or react to any provocation.”

Extinction Rebellion said it was protesting against working conditions at Amazon as well as the consumerism encouraged by Black Friday.

Amazon’s soaring sales

“The action is intended to draw attention to Amazon’s exploitative and environmentally destructive business practices, disregard for workers’ rights in the name of company profits, as well as the wastefulness of Black Friday," it said. The protest group also targeted sites in the US, Germany and the Netherlands.

An Amazon spokesman said: “At Amazon, we take our responsibilities very seriously. That includes our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement – providing excellent pay and benefits in a safe and modern work environment, and supporting the tens of thousands of British small businesses who sell on our store.

“We know there is always more to do, and we’ll continue to invent and invest on behalf of our employees, customers, small businesses and communities in the UK.”

Amazon said last year’s shopping period from Black Friday to Cyber Monday was the biggest in its history.

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