Italy: Companies urged to protect logistics workers’ rights & uphold freedom of association, following widespread violence at protests
Since the beginning of the year, workers in the logistics sector in Italy have been organising protests to demand fairer salaries and benefits, and better working conditions, which they allege have deteriorated over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unions took strike action at various warehouses and facilities run by logistics giants like Amazon, FedEx, and others.
In March, thousands of Amazon workers - from warehouse employees to delivery drivers - held a nationwide strike, the first in the company's history. This brought international attention to the plight of logistics workers in Italy.
Other protests took place in the following months. Concerns were raised by unions and in media reports about logistics workers' freedom of association, and their ability to safely exercise their right to protest, following several incidents of violence.
Protesters were reportedly met with violence at some of FedEx's facilities, first in Piacenza back in March, where workers had started a strike against layoffs announced by the company, then in May when several union members were beaten and intimidated during a protest, and finally in June in Tavazzano, where clashes left many injured.
In July, union leader Adil Belakhdim was killed by a truck during a protest over labour conditions at Lidl Italia's facilities in Biandrate.
Following these incidents, in July 2021 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Lidl Italia, FedEx, Amazon and DHL to answer questions regarding steps taken to ensure that freedom of association is respected, and that workers can exercise their right to organise in a safe environment without fear of violence. All response statements are available below.