Amazon reports a 13% growth in 2024 1Q while it faces a Union uprising in Europe

May 7, 2024 by
Frank Calviño

Amazon reported strong results for the first quarter, driven by growth in its cloud-computing unit and new advertising dollars from its Prime Video streaming service.

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant said it generated $143.31 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year, a 13% jump from the same period last year. Net income was $10.43 billion, or 98 cents per share. According to FactSet, that soundly beat Wall Street analysts' expectations of 84 cents a share.

“It was a good start to the year across the business, and you can see that in both our customer experience improvements and financial results,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said in a statement.

The nation’s biggest online retailer is coming off better-than-expected results for the holiday shopping period when it saw strong consumer spending aided by discounts and faster shipping speeds. Amazon held another discount event in late March, right before the end of the first quarter.

Overall, U.S. consumer spending has continued growing despite higher prices and borrowing costs resulting from the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes. The nation’s economy slowed during the first three months of this year, but hiring has also remained robust.

In a call with reporters, Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said that Amazon's U.S. customers are “very thoughtful” about their spending. He noted consumers are looking for deals and trading down and that the company is “particularly” seeing lower expenditure in Europe.

Amazon Europe has a Union uprising in the making 

Meanwhile, Amazon Europe is also facing a direct challenge on a different front. Unions from 11 EU countries have written to data protection authorities across the bloc asking them to investigate Amazon's data surveillance practices, according to a letter seen by 'Euronews' on Tuesday. 

The union leaders from European countries where Amazon warehouses employ significant numbers of workers, including Spain, Austria, Germany, and Ireland, question the use of surveillance and algorithmic management.

They claim that the tech giant uses handheld scanners, activity monitoring software, video cameras, GPS devices, and other tracking technology, which has consequences for workers' mental and physical health.

Oliver Roethig, regional secretary of UNI Europa, said in a statement to 'Euronews' that worker management systems "undermine trust between workers and management, but also highlight a systematic disregard for our privacy laws."

"It is time for us to stand up and demand that these multinational companies respect workers' personal data and their right to a decent workplace. We need strong action now to ensure that our laws are fully enforced," said Roethig.

The letter comes at a time when the marketplace is also in the crosshairs of EU lawmakers. Last month, five Social Democrat politicians visited Amazon facilities in Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands after representatives of the e-commerce platform were barred from entering the European Parliament following a summons by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL) after the company failed to attend a series of hearings and factory visits in 2021 and 2023.

During the visits, conducted together with union representatives, the legislators wanted to know more about employees' working conditions.

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