From Issue 141 March/April 2013
Boycott Amazon update
It’s now three months since we launched our Boycott Amazon campaign and we’ve been pleased by the take up that it’s had. Thousands of people have emailed Amazon to say they’ll no longer be using their site, while tens of thousands more have visited our Boycott Amazon web pages.
We’ve also had coverage in many different news outlets including The Guardian, Reuters, Radio 4 and The Sun(!).
Liverpool’s radical bookshop News from Nowhere was a recommended alternative on Ethical Consumer’s website for buying books online when we launched the boycott. As a result they had their best Christmas for many years with sales rising by 8%. So although Amazon might not be too worried yet, we’re already having an impact by turning round the fortunes of some struggling local retailers.
The year ahead
But a campaign isn’t just for Christmas and now the hard work begins in keeping the pressure up and mobilising consumers all around the world.
Globally, the wider campaign against Amazon does seem to be paying off with the company now on the back foot, at least in the United States. Several states in the US have now managed to start getting sales tax from the pariah corporation, including Texas and Massachusetts. In fact, in three states where the company has already started to pay sales tax, competitors have already seen a rise in sales.
According to Reuters, an electronics retailer called Best Buy saw a jump in sales for the three weeks before Christmas with an analyst telling the news agency that “There was a little softness in states where Amazon is now collecting sales tax and that isn’t surprising to me. It levels the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers.”
Perhaps more interestingly, in Washington the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has taken the company to court over a $234 million international tax bill. The case focuses on unpaid taxes for 2005 and 2006. The IRS is contesting tax deductions Amazon claimed on its net operating losses, and its use of transfer pricing – a method used by multinationals to shift profits into low tax countries. The outcome of the case is eagerly awaited by companies and campaigners alike.
Meanwhile in France, where Amazon received a $252 million demand from the tax authorities late last year, new laws are afoot to stop on-line retailers avoiding corporation tax in the country. (The details are sketchy at the moment but we’ll keep you posted).
Back here in the UK, in lieu of any action by the government and the HMRC, a petition asking Amazon to pay a fair rate of corporation tax has been started on the campaign website change.org. Initiated by Frances and Keith Smith, a couple who own an independent book store in Warwick, the petition has over 80,000 signatures.
Email Amazon and tell them that, until they start paying a fair rate of tax, you’ll be boycotting the company.
Find more information on the boycott including a list of companies who pay their taxes and who are a good alternative to shopping at Amazon.
More boycott news
Uncaged end boycott campaigns
Animal rights campaign group Uncaged has changed tactics and dropped its boycott campaigns.
As of November the group ended its Iams (owned by Procter and Gamble), Estee Lauder, L’Oréal, Herbal Essences and Johnson & Johnson boycott calls.
In a statement on the website the organisation said, “At the moment most people are against animal testing of cosmetics in principle, but because most well-known products are made by animal-testing companies, they are the ones that get bought. Ultimately, we need to change people’s environment to make it easier for them to make ethical choices, and that involves political change such as a ban on animal-tested cosmetics.”
After almost 20 years of campaigning Uncaged will become a research and lobbying organisation with the name the Centre for Animals and Social Justice (CASJ). We’ll cover their new incarnation in a feature in our next issue.
Boycott farmed salmon
A new campaign has started in Canada to boycott farmed salmon. Campaigners say the industry is posing a massive risk to the environment surrounding the fisheries.
Organisers of the boycott say that with no barriers around farms to protect the surrounding area, pollution and water-borne diseases contaminate the ocean environment. The campaign website says that the intensive livestock sea-based enclosures can contain up to a million fish. These fish are fed colourants to turn their grey flesh pink and given antibiotics and de-lousing drugs to fight disease and parasites. These inevitably leak into the surrounding environment. In addition, disposal of manure is non-existent and it simply pours into coastal fishing grounds.
Campaigners also say that over 325 billion infectious viral particles can spread into the ocean per hour and, while the farms frequently experience mass mortalities from viruses, not enough is done to protect wild fish and there are no barriers for disease, viruses, bacteria and lice between salmon pens and the surrounding environment.
Campaigners are asking that salmon farms be removed from the oceans and the migratory routes of our wild fish.
You can sign the petition and take action at www.salmonfeedlotboycott.com
Uzbek cotton boycott begins to bear fruit
In January the Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN) announced that Zara had become the hundredth company to pledge to boycott Uzbek cotton. The move came after global anti-slavery group Walk Free launched a social media campaign to encourage Zara and its parent company INDITEX to sign the pledge. RSN said that it was “pleased to have such a prominent company help us surpass our 100th signatory milestone.”