April 9, 2019
Protestors concerned about pollution fight back against Amazon
by Michael Seidlinger
Now this is something to clamor about. In Southeast France, protestors have successfully put a halt on the construction of an Amazon logistics center. Angelique Chrisafis, reporting for the Guardian, interviewed protestors about the development. “We won’t back down,” said Gilles Renevier, one of the locals campaigning vocally against Amazon. “We have to think about how to live better in a society with less pollution.”
What would building an Amazon center really do to the city? Well, for starters, it would cause a drastic increase in road traffic and pollution. Upwards of a thousand lorries and thousands of more vehicles congesting the network of roads would create a dire situation for an already severely populated locale. There’s also the effect it will have on local wildlife. Protestors note that the center would destroy “33 protected species of animal life without justification.”
The protestors utilized an effective array of blockades at various Amazon buildings from Toulouse to Montélimar, all the way up to Douai in the north, before eventually being dismantled and dissolved by authorities. It took them months but persistence has indeed paid off (for now).
For some perspective, Amazon is as much a market leader in France as it is here in the States. It comes complete with similar tax breaks and loopholes. A protestor from Douai expressed his utter disdain:
“Tax in France isn’t fair. Several of my mates work at Amazon. How come low-paid workers, toiling all day in an Amazon hangar, have to pay all their tax and big companies get to arrange how to pay the least tax possible?”
Amazon retaliated and has leaned heavily on its investment in France (€2bn), and its contributions to jobs (upwards of 7.5k employees across 20 sites). In an attempt to calm the protestors—the gilets jaunes movement—the French government is moving forward with a new tax on big tech companies like Amazon and Apple.
The takeaway? People are angry. They are fighting back against unfair practices. They are not giving up. And you know what? This is the kind of thing that will truly energize communities and activate ideas.
Michael Seidlinger is the Library and Academic Marketing Manager at Melville House.