The 'speed-up' of work, health and safety protection among top priorities
Ahead of the holiday season, workers’ union Unifor has launched a campaign to improve working conditions for workers in warehousing, distribution and logistics facilities across the country.
The campaign – Warehouse Workers Unite – brings said workers together to address shared issues, including the 'speed-up' of work, health and safety protection, fair wages, better working conditions and respect on the job.
"Frontline essential warehouse workers literally carry the load to ensure that we have access to the goods that we need but they also bear the brunt as pressure for faster and faster delivery results in ever-worsening conditions, with increased demands to work at almost impossible speeds," said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president.
Tens of thousands of workers have been getting injured at Amazon facilities for years, and the numbers grew from 2017 to 2020, according to a report from the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC).
Warehouse workers faced many problems during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were already a lot of issues even before the crisis, according to the union.
"Warehouse work takes place out of the public eye, with warehouse workers often feeling invisible and isolated," said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec director. "This campaign aims to bring attention to their experiences and encourage warehouse workers to consider what unionization can do to help them gain a voice to demand good jobs and to build an industry standard."
In April last year, Ontario said it was investigating possible labour law violations at an Amazon warehouse in Brampton, Ont. that was ordered to shut down because of a COVID-19 outbreak. Amazon was also under fire this past summer when it was reported the company was using email or app notifications to dismiss staff.
With all these challenges, warehouse workers will gain a lot should they decided to unionize, according to Unifor.
“Workers in warehousing and distribution make their jobs better when they unionize their workplace. Better wages, seniority, fairness and respect are just some of the benefits of joining Unifor,” said the union in the recently launched campaign.
Amazon recently announced it is trying out a couple of scenarios for its post-pandemic work arrangements in Canada.