Extinction Rebellion targets Amazon warehouses in UK in Black Friday protests

Amazon Black Friday protest blockade in Avonmouth. Photo: ITV West Country
Extinction Rebellion protesters at an Amazon warehouse in Bristol as part of an international Black Friday protest. Credit: ITV West Country

Extinction Rebellion protesters are staging blockades at Amazon warehouses across the UK during Black Friday, the retail giant's busiest day of the year.

The environment campaigners are targeting the company's 13 sites saying they want to highlight the company'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".

At Amazon's largest UK distribution centre in Dunfermline, Fife, about 20 activists started the blockade at 4am.

Protesters used “lock-ons” and placards to stop lorries entering the Scottish site.

Other sites targeted were in Kent, Doncaster, Darlington, Newcastle, Manchester, Peterborough, Derby, Coventry, Rugeley, Bristol, Tilbury, and Milton Keynes.

There were also protests in the US, Germany and the Netherlands.

Amazon said in 2019 it hoped to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, but Extinction Rebellion said no evidence has been given to show how this will be achieved.

An Extinction Rebellion (XR) spokesperson at the Dunfermline blockade, Meg Paton-Jones, said: “The police have one van on site and they are watching us.

“We started here at about 4am but are not blocking the employees’ car park so the night shift can leave.

“We have good vibes and music.”

Extinction Rebellion protestors at an Amazon centre in Dartford Credit: Extinction Rebellion

Another XR spokesperson added: “This is happening in solidarity with activists and workers from the global Make Amazon Pay campaign, demanding better working conditions, clear environmental commitments, and for Amazon to pay their fair share of tax."

They continued: “Amazon continues to lobby the US government to fight against climate legislation while telling the public they are committed to green initiatives.

“They are committing the very definition of greenwash.”

Watch video from the scene in Avonmouth.

Maciej Walczuk, a 19-year-old student, said: “We have to recognise that the consumption in the global north is largely based upon the exploitation of the working class and the global south, while companies like Amazon make massive profits and contribute to worsening the climate and ecological crisis."

In Dartford, Kent, campaigners blocked an Amazon centre using bamboo structures and held banners with the words 'Amazon Crime' and 'Infinite growth, finite planet'.

The protestors say they intend to stay at the site for at least 48 hours.

The activists say these sites account for just over 50% of Amazon deliveries in the UK. 

Clarissa Carlyon, who is taking part in the action in Dartford, said: “I have joined this action because we must address the toxic consumerism that is driving the ecological crisis, and trapping us in business as usual."

She said: “Amazon is a prime example of the wider issues we face. It exploits people who work for it, forcing them into unstable working conditions.

"It avoids paying tax and makes its executives rich, while destroying the planet for profit, all the while lobbying governments to protect them rather than the natural world."

An XR protester in Bristol explains why the group is staging the blockade:

In Avonmouth, Bristol, activists blocked off two access roads to the Amazon site at around 4am by tying themselves to bamboo towers and scaffolding structures.

In Greater Manchester's Altrincham, protesters blocked a road near Manchester Airport using bamboo structures, lock-ons and banners with the words ‘make Amazon pay’ and ‘infinite growth, finite planet’. They said they intend to stay for at least 48 hours.

Protestors blocking a road outside of the Amazon warehouse in Altrincham, Greater Manchester. Credit: XR UK

Amazon has been approached for comment.

Earlier this year in July, ITV News revealed Amazon routinely destroys millions of items of unsold stock every year.