1. It is an aggressive tax avoider.
We estimated that in 2021 the UK lost around £500million from Amazon’s tax avoidance. By doing everything from registering its UK profits in Luxembourg to deferring its taxation by investing for its monopoly, the company has aggressively avoided paying its share to the public purse.
According to the most recent figures, because of its aggressive tax avoidance strategies, Amazon is likely to pay around £22m - just 4.2% of the £500m that might be expected in the UK.
And its tax avoidance isn't only affecting the UK: globally the gap between what Amazon reports it is paying in tax and the actual cash it's handing over to authorities amounts to £6billion, according to the campaign organisation Fair Tax Mark.
Paul Monaghan from Fair Tax Mark says,
"Amazon is growing its market domination across the globe on the back of income that is largely untaxed, allowing it to unfairly undercut local businesses that take a more responsible approach. Contrived financial arrangements lie at the heart of Amazon’s success.”
Ethical Consumer continues to call for a boycott of Amazon over its outrageous tax avoidance.
2. Amazon has treated its workers poorly for years.
In March 2021, Jennifer Bates, an Amazon worker testified before a Senate Budget Committee in the US, stating:
“My work day feels like a nine-hour intense workout every day, and they track our every move. I learned that if I worked too slow or had too much time off task, I could be disciplined or even fired."
Her testimony is nothing new. Over the last decade, more and more Amazon workers have spoken out.
In October 2020, TUC released a report about Amazon’s mistreatment of its employees. It found that employees in Amazon warehouses worked 55 hour weeks/ 10 hour days on average, were expected to pack around 300 items per hour, and were harassed, disciplined or fired if they failed to meet their targets. Workers felt unable to take breaks or visit the bathroom, and sometimes had to urinate in bottles.
The report linked the gruelling conditions to serious accidents or workplace exhaustion, finding that over a three year period, ambulances had been called out 600 times to 14 Amazon warehouses in Britain. One facility alone saw 115 emergency calls, compared to only 8 over the same period at a similar sized supermarket distribution centre just a few miles away.
3. Its abuses come at a high price for workers in the cost of living crisis.
In November 2022, Amazon workers and activists from all over the globe will again take action against Amazon’s atrocious conditions as part of #MakeAmazonPay Black Friday protests.
The campaign says that
"real wages are going down while the corporation rakes in record revenue - $121bn for the second quarter of 2022 - and doubles down on its union-busting tactics."
Violations have also been reported in the company’s supply chain, with Amazon failing to respond. According to the campaign group Labour Behind the Label in November 2021:
“Amazon’s supplier Hulu Garment tricked its entire workforce of 1,020 workers into resigning in a shocking attempt to rob their workers of $3.6 million (USD) in legally owed severance.
“After being told their factory may need to lay people off due to loss of orders during the corona pandemic, the workers were told they would not receive their last wages if they did not sign a document management had presented them with. A sentence in this document stating they were resigning was hidden, purposefully covered up by the worker’s most recent payslip. The workers were made to “sign” with a thumb print.”
Labour Behind the Label says that Amazon has done nothing to address the issue.
4. Amazon sells its services to fossil fuel companies.
Amazon offers its high tech services to help fossil fuel companies find more oil and gas.
In August 2022, Bloomberg reported that Amazon was a "quieter beneficiary" of the boom in oil and gas prices, and was, for example, "helping drillers run simulations to maximize how much oil they can pump from existing wells. Amazon was said to have stated that it was making "oil companies more efficient" as "part of their sustainability work".
Amazon has previously been accused of ‘aggressively courting’ the industry and offering machine learning and AI technologies to enable fossil fuel extraction at a time when “it is imperative most fossil fuels be left in the ground if we are to avoid severe climate disruption”.
Amazon was also found to have sponsored a 2020 event held by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank well known for spreading climate denial misinformation.
It raised eyebrows therefore, when Jeff Bezos was asked to speak at the COP26 climate summit in November.
"Nature gives us life. It is beautiful but it is also fragile. I was reminded of this in July when I went into space." Jeff Bezos.
That's Cop26's Marie Antoinette moment.
— Tim Stanley (@timothy_stanley) November 2, 2021
5. It’s failed to address its own environmental impacts.
In 2020, Amazon announced its target to be carbon neutral by 2040. Yet, in 2021 its emissions rose by 18%, despite only including 1% of all product sales.
Currently, the company reports its emissions at over 70 million tons CO2e a year - which is equivalent to over 70 million return passenger flights from London to New York.
It is not only on climate targets where Amazon falls down. In April 2021, a video was published which showed Amazon’s Dunfermline warehouse destroying over 124,000 items of unsold stock. Amazon destroys products that are outdated or have been returned, likely because to keep it stored is worth less than trashing it and bringing new stuff in.