Global Labour Rights Campaigns,

Labour risks at Amazon’s operations in Spain

An update on Amazon’s operations in Spain by Mario Sanchez Richter, Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CS CCOO).

After several people developed symptoms in Amazon centers, management unilaterally implemented a protocol for prevention and action in response to the pandemic. The response was insufficient and did not lay out an effective method of implementation.

At the time, Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), communicated to Amazon management that the measures in various work centers were insufficient to protect the health of the workforce. For example, the minimum social distances for safety were not even respected.

It should be noted that companies that work in the distribution and delivery of products purchased in electronic commerce are considered essential, and a Royal Decree obliges them to maintain the service.

In Spain there are currently approximately 25 Amazon distribution centers, and yet only six benefit from workers’ representatives. The CCOO union is only present in 5 of these centers. The Amazon distribution centers with union representation include both large work centers (around 1500 workers or more) and small centers (with less than 300 workers). In centers where there is no workers’ representation, it is difficult to obtain information and assess the situation during the pandemic.

After the company made few improvements, CCOO filed a request with the Labour Inspectorate (Inspección de Trabajo y Seguridad Social) to review Amazon’s health and safety response to the pandemic at several distribution centers.

In the smaller work centers, addressing safety issues did not present as many challenges as in the larger centers. For example, a center in San Fernando de Henares, the Labour Inspectorate was forced to pursue a difficult path that included, over several weeks, multiple extraordinary meetings, informal meetings, evaluation reports and counter-responses filed by the company. The Labour Inspectorate’s visit to the facilities resulted in – after a great effort on the part of workers’ legal representatives carried out by the CCOO unit – the application of more than 100 direct safety measures. It also resulted in the creation of a Work Commission, composed of company and union representatives, whose purpose is to evaluate and monitor the measures taken for the protection of the health of the workforce against COVID-19. Since the COVID-19 Commission was launched, more than 140 health and safety issues have been detected. New measures continue to be developed.

In the two months since the outbreak began, eight workers of 200 have tested positive for COVID 19 and completed their quarantines in the distribution centers with workers’ representation. This data cannot be completed for the 18 centers without union representation.

Photo: Álvaro Ibáñez from Madrid, Spain / CC BY (