A group of more than 20 global investors are urging Amazon to assess whether it has lived up to its own commitments to respect workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

The international investor coalition, led by the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), has filed a shareholder proposal urging the company’s board of directors to assess how the company respects international human rights law, including the Core Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

The investor coalition’s move comes ahead of Amazon’s upcoming annual general meeting on 22 May amid ongoing unionisation efforts at the company, including recent applications in the US, UK, and Canada, as well as media reports alleging intimidation, retaliation, and surveillance.

Sarah Couturier-Tanoh, director of shareholder advocacy at SHARE and a leading authority on corporate governance, decent work, and human rights, said that effective and transparent due diligence is needed to reassure shareholders when repeated allegations of misconduct arise.

“Beyond the ethical imperative to respect human rights, any failure to align workforce practices with internationally recognised human rights norms represents a threat to shareholder long-term value.

“That’s why in the past couple of years we have seen global investors taking stances in favour of better labour relations in an effort to mitigate those risks in their investment portfolio. In the past six months, several companies answered the call, including Starbucks and Apple. We are still waiting for Amazon to follow suit and, frankly, to do even better,” added Couturier-Tanoh.

Call to ‘come clean’

Co-filer Storebrand Asset Management said it is in Amazon’s best interest to come clean regarding the numerous allegations of interference with workers’ rights to unionise by allowing for a third-party assessment of their implementation and policies.

“Large companies such as Amazon may be facing increased financial risk due to emerging EU regulation requiring mandatory human rights due diligence (Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive), which also applies to non-EU large companies conducting business in Europe,” said Tulia Machado-Helland, head of human rights at Storebrand.

Other co-filers on the proposal include Alecta, Öhman Fonder, the Council of Ethics for the National Swedish Pension Funds, AkademikerPension, Sampension, KLP Kapitalforvaltning, Cardano Group; and the US-based Illinois State Treasurer’s Office.

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