Montreal – The giant Amazon does not seem to appreciate the staff of its distribution center in Montreal trying to obtain union certification. According to the Federation of National Trade Unions (CSN), the company used “intimidation and harassment tactics” to undermine the current trade union process.
CSN claims that two lawyers sent letters to the employer on May 20 and June 2 alleging labor rights violations. According to David Bergeron-Sirin, vice president of the Labor Central Committee, Amazon’s anti-union messages are “widespread” in the warehouse.
“It’s intimidating, Mr. Cut the pergeron-vein. This American company must respect Quebec labor law.
Photos seen by the Canadian Press show workers’ break room in the Montreal warehouse. Posters were pasted on each of the transparent panels installed between the tables. In these posters you can read the messages “We encourage you to speak for yourself” or “We do not believe we need a third party between us”.
The Canadian Press was also able to view text messages sent by Amazon to the personal phones of its employees. The direct note of the campaign signing the union membership card reads, “It is your fundamental right to sign or say ‘no thanks’ or ‘I’m not interested.’
Under Quebec labor law, the employer benefits from his freedom of expression, but he has no right to obstruct the trade union process or to make threats or promises to workers. The employer should not use his power to influence employees in accordance with his will. In addition, employees must have the ability to decide whether or not to seek communications about unions from the employer.
Frederick Barre, a professor of law at the University of Quebec in Montreal, believes practices such as intensive posting and texting in the Amazon lounge could be “a problem.”
According to Professor Barrow, this is about balance. In his view, the attitude of the Amazon betrays an intolerant American mentality in Quebec.
David Bergeron-Sir recalled that Amazon employees approached CSN in April and launched a union campaign to get better pay. In comparison, workers in unionized factories earn between $ 26 and $ 30 an hour.
“The workload and speed are completely crazy,” the CSN vice president described. “People are working under pressure. Many of them are immigrants who do not know their rights and Amazon is using this to their advantage.
If more than half of the 250 to 300 warehouse employees sign the membership card, the executive labor tribunal can issue a union certificate.
Many employees, anonymously, told the Canadian Press that Amazon’s actions appeared to them to be a clear attempt to disrupt the union process. They all reported managers’ rage at dividing groups of workers talking about the union and verbal threats to close the distribution center during union certification.
An employee has said his life has become miserable because he said the word union in the workplace. “The manager interrogates every person who comes to talk to me after a few seconds. When they did, no one came to talk to you, so I was isolated, ”he laments.
According to another worker, most of his co-workers believe they deserve the best conditions, but are afraid to sign their card for fear that the employer will find out and fire them.
Amazon Canada spokeswoman Ryma Boussoufa said in a statement that the company did not believe the unions were “the best solution for (its) employees”. “No one in our company will force, intimidate, threaten, promise or unduly influence our employees in deciding whether or not to join a union,” he added. He denied all the allegations collected from the staff, calling them “unsubstantiated”.
Several groups of Amazon warehouse workers around the world, including Montreal, have reported severe working conditions, including a ten-hour shift and packing of products at frantic speeds, which can often lead to injuries.
Managers will be encouraged to charge higher fees to employees to collect bonuses, and distribution centers will be equipped with intrusive surveillance camera systems.
When asked about these denunciations of poor work environment, he replied that Amazon prefers a safety culture and lists many benefits, including dental care and scholarships.
This article was co-produced by Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.