Tuesday, July 16, 2019

We are all benefiting from this new slave trade


In one of many stories coinciding with Amazon's Prime Day promotion Morocco World News has a report headlined "Rabat Call Center Worker: ‘Amazon is a Murderer That Must be Stopped’: 'They are killing people’s babies. They are making people mentally ill. They are making us homeless'”. The report tells how Amazon handles all its French-language customer service centers in Africa, in Morocco (Rabat), Tunisia, Senegal and Madagascar. In Morocco the starting wage in the Amazon call centre employing 600 people is €500 a month, around 40% of France’s minimum wage. In the other African call centres that wage is almost certainly lower. Exploiting the very low cost base of these marginalised countries while benefiting from the high margins in affluent France and other Western countries is what makes Amazon so profitable, helped of course by creative tax avoidance.

Everyone, including this writer, use Amazon because the online monster has wiped out almost every alternative supply source. Pressure has been applied to governments and institutions to apologise for their historic involvement in the slave trade. Yet we are all benefiting from this new slavery. Amazon controls 30% of the home entertainment market - including classical music sales - in key global markets. Daniel Barenboim was praised to the rafters for his activist anti-Brexit speech at the 2017 BBC Proms. Will he speak out against Amazon's new slave trade when he makes his annual appearance at the Proms on August 12th? Will the social media influencers exhort the audience at the Last Night of the Proms to wave placards like those held aloft by the Amazon workers, instead of EU flags? Of course not: because the classical music industry has never had the courage to bite the hand that feeds it.

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