A former Amazon employee embroiled in a legal battle with the online retailer is set to go on hunger strike in an attempt to force the company to change business practices which he calls “deceptive and fraudulent”.
Kivin Varghese plans to start his vigil on Tuesday outside Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle in order to raise awareness of what he alleges are poor business practices and employee treatment by the company.
“I think if Amazon customers took a few minutes to look at this and see how Amazon treats employees they’d be shocked,” he said. “My goal with stepping it up with a hunger protest is really to drive more awareness of their practices and really what happens when people buy from Amazon. Every dollar that is spent at Amazon is going to fund this bad behaviour.”
Varghese is in the midst of a court case with the company, in which he claims wrongful discharge after he worked on an advertising platform for Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. Amazon has called for the claims to be dismissed, stating in court documents that Varghese was an “underperforming employee who had a difference of opinion with his employer”.
Varghese, who plans to only drink water during his protest, is calling for the company to add three items to its 14 leadership principles. He wants Amazon to commit to better treatment of employees, improve ethical standards and “make decisions that are better for our environment”.
He is also asking for customers to boycott Amazon on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two major US shopping days that fall after the Thanksgiving holiday, and wants workers to strike or take sick days in protest at conditions.
“What I’m really trying to accomplish is a much more thorough and accountable effort to get Amazon to pay attention to employee treatment,” he said. “Not only employee treatment in Seattle but more importantly employees who are toiling away at these fulfillment and cost centres across the country.”
The protest coincides with anti-Amazon action in the UK. The group Amazon Anonymous is encouraging consumers to avoid using the company during December, in an attempt to “disrupt their business”. The group is criticising the company’s tax practices and calling for it to “pay its workers a living wage”.
When asked for comment, Amazon stated that the company does not give any on active litigation.
Amazon has just announced a “long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage” for its global infrastructure footprint.
This article was written by Lanre Bakare and Oliver Laughland, for theguardian.com on Saturday 22nd November 2014 14.11 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010