Government must stand up to Amazon on workers’ rights

14 Oct 2020
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The Government must use its purchasing power to stand up to Amazon on workers’ rights.

GMB, the union for Amazon workers, calls for Government and safety regulators to either tell Amazon's management to put their house in order or send them packing.

The call comes as joint TUC and GMB union research reveals that Amazon was awarded national and local government contracts with a lifetime value of up to £630 million between 2015 and 2020.

The research shows that in 2020 alone, Amazon has been granted contracts worth over £23 million, including contracts related to test and trace valued at £8.3 million.

Today is Amazon ‘Prime Day’. Unions say this is one of the most dangerous days for Amazon workers as they are pushed to meet relentless demand caused by heavy discounts.

Reports of employment practices at Amazon describe gruelling conditions, unrealistic productivity targets, surveillance, bogus self-employment and a refusal to recognise or engage with unions unless forced.

According to GMB Union, between 2015 to 2018, ambulances were called out 600 times to 14 Amazon warehouses in Britain due to workers collapsing in unsafe, intense working conditions.

Callouts to Amazon warehouses across three UK ambulance trusts, 2016/17 to 2018/19. Data obtained by GMB Union under the Freedom of Information Act. Click to expand.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer, said:

“Amazon is trousering hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash through public sector contracts - while paying a pittance in tax on their vast profits. It’s beyond parody.

“Meanwhile workers in Amazon warehouses are being taken away in ambulances, forced to go to the toilet using bins and bottles and are now contracting covid while packed into warehouses like sardines.

"This report is a warning to the public sector that it can no longer turn a blind eye to Amazon's exploitative practices and appalling health and safety record.

"It's time for UK government and safety regulators to either tell Amazon's management to put their house in order or send them packing."

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