UK Amazon workers have joined colleagues around the world by staging protests over poor working conditions in the retail giant’s warehouses during Amazon’s two-day Prime Day shopping event.
General trade union GMB claimed that employees at Amazon fulfilment centres work in ‘dehumanising’ conditions, with some breaking bones, being knocked unconscious, and taken away in ambulances and pregnant women workers being mistreated.
Protests started yesterday outside Amazon fulfilment centres in Rugeley, Swansea, Peterborough, Warrington, Coventry, Doncaster and Milton Keynes.
Research by GMB found that since 2015/16 there have been more than 600 reports made from Amazon warehouses to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Members report that conditions have left them using plastic bottles to urinate in and pregnant women being forced to stand for long periods of time and being targeted for dismissal. Reports also found that women have miscarried at more than one of the Amazon fulfilment centres when working.
A GMB investigation found that over a three-year period there were 115 ambulance call-outs to the Rugeley site. A Freedom of Information request by GMB to West Midlands Ambulance Service found 24 incidents of chest pain, two electric shocks and 10 cases of trauma in call-outs from 2015 to 2017.
— GMB West Midlands (@GMBWestMidlands) July 16, 2019
GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “The conditions our members work under at Amazon sites across the UK are appalling.
“Amazon workers want [Amazon founder and CEO] Jeff Bezos to know they are people, not robots. It’s time for him to show empathy with the very people that have helped to contribute to his vast and increasing personal fortune.
“It’s prime time for Amazon to get round the table with GMB and discuss ways to make their workplaces safer and to give their workers an independent voice. My phone is on and we at GMB are ready to hold those discussions with Amazon.”
Amazon UK told Retail Insight Network said: “Today our well-paid, dedicated and highly-respected teams are doing what they do every day – delivering for their customers in an environment that’s fun, engaging and set-up to help them succeed. With industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits, outstanding career opportunities and a safe, modern work environment, Amazon is the employer of choice for thousands of people across the UK.
“We encourage everyone to come and see what it’s really like to work for Amazon by taking a tour of one of our UK fulfilment centres.”
Workers are also protesting against Amazon’s working conditions in a number of other countries including Germany, the US, Spain and Poland.