Amazon Staff Walkout Over Environment, Return To Office Policies

Reports have emerged of unrest among Amazon’s corporate staff – upset with a number of issues at the e-commerce giant.

Tensions are said to be running high with a number of employees planning to walk off the job on Wednesday in protest of the company’s recent return-to-office mandate, its layoff of 27,000 staff, and Amazon’s environmental record.

In February Amazon CEO Andy Jassy used a blog post to demand a return to the office for the “majority” of the company’s 300,000-strong corporate workforce. Staff were upset after Jassy had stated in September 2022 that Amazon would not follow others in the technology industry by ordering its corporate staff to return to the office, in a post Coronavirus world.

RJ Scaringe, CEO of Rivian and Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon

Staff walkout

But Amazon mandated that corporate staff must return to the office at least three days a week – starting 1 May 2023.

However reports at the time suggested Amazon employees had spammed an internal website with comments expressing their opposition to the policy.

Now CNBC reported that 1,922 employees worldwide are expected to walk out at 3pm ET (8pm BST), with about 900 of those workers gathering outside the Spheres, the massive glass domes that anchor Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.

There are said to be two groups organising the walkout, namely Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, and a remote work advocacy group.

According to the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice notice of the walkout, so far 1,922 staff have pledged to walk out of Amazon’s office in Seattle.

The group said employees are walking out to highlight a “lack of trust in company leadership’s decision making.”

The group is demanding “that climate impact is put at the forefront of our decision-making” and also it also “demands flexibility in how and where we work.”

Amazon recently initiated the largest layoffs in its 29-year history, cutting 27,000 jobs across its cloud computing, advertising and retail divisions, since last last year.

Return-to-office

According to CNBC, staff have urged Amazon leadership to drop the return-to-office mandate and crafted a petition, addressed to CEO Andy Jassy and the S-team (Amazon’s senior executives).

Amazon staffers reportedly said the policy “runs contrary” to Amazon’s positions on diversity and inclusion, affordable housing, sustainability, and focus on being the “Earth’s Best Employer.”

According to CNBC, the backlash to the return-to-office mandate spilled over into an internal Slack channel, and employees created a group called Remote Advocacy to express their concerns.

Amazon of course is facing a number of challenges in the post-Covid world, not helped by the rough economy and slowing retail sales.

Amazon reportedly has 65,000 corporate and tech employees in the Puget Sound region, as well as approximately 350,000 corporate and tech workers worldwide.

Earlier this week Amazon offered a term time-only contract for parents and grandparents working in its UK warehouses, amidst ongoing strike actions over pay at its Coventry facility.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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