By Paul Sandle
LONDON (Reuters) – More than 400 lawmakers from 34 countries have signed a letter to Amazon.com Inc boss Jeff Bezos backing a campaign that claims the tech giant has “dodged and dismissed … debts to workers, societies, and the planet,” organisers said.
The “Make Amazon Pay” campaign was launched on Nov. 27 – the annual Black Friday shopping bonanza – by a coalition of over 50 organisations, with demands including improvements to working conditions and full tax transparency.
The letter’s signatories include U.S. Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, former UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Vice President of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala, co-convenors Progressive International and UNI Global Union said.
“We urge you to act decisively to change your policies and priorities to do right by your workers, their communities, and our planet,” the letter said.
“We stand ready to act in our respective legislatures to support the movement that is growing around the world to Make Amazon Pay.”
Amazon, the world’s biggest retailer, has faced criticism for its tax practices before, including in the UK and the EU. It says its profits remain low given retail is a highly competitive, low margin business and it invests heavily.
It said on Thursday that while it accepted scrutiny from policymakers, many of the matters raised in the letter stemmed from misleading assertions.
“Amazon has a strong track record of supporting our employees, our customers, and our communities, including providing safe working conditions, competitive wages and great benefits,” it said, adding it was “paying billions of dollars in taxes globally.” The company has also pledged to be net carbon neutral by 2040.
Amazon grew rapidly during the pandemic, with sales soaring as restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus closed bricks-and-mortar shops and sent consumers online.
Governments worldwide are considering tougher rules for big tech to assuage worries about competition.
The European Union, for example, last month charged Amazon with damaging retail competition, alleging it used its size, power and data to gain an unfair advantage over smaller merchants that sell on its online platform.
Amazon disagreed with the EU assertions, saying it represented less than 1% of the global retail market and there were larger retailers in every country in which it operated.
Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Nick Zieminski
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