Black Friday: Union calls for inquiry into Amazon over ‘dehumanising’ conditions
Union members have called for a parliamentary inquiry into Amazon over “dehumanising” conditions at the ecommerce giant’s warehouses.
Disgruntled unionists have projected a banner reading ‘Make Amazon Pay’ outside the tech firm’s London headquarters as part of protests coinciding with Black Friday.
“Amazon is well known for unsafe, dehumanising work practices which see our members break bones, fall unconscious and have to be taken away in ambulances,” said Mick Rix, national officer at union GMB, which organised the protests.
“They pay a pittance in tax while taking millions from the taxpayer in lucrative government contracts.
“Now, during a pandemic which has made the world’s richest man even more money, they’ve been packing workers into warehouses like sardines in a tin. Enough is enough.”
GMB said it has joined a global coalition alongside Amnesty International and Oxfam that is attempting to curb Amazon’s “monstrous” power.
The tech giant has faced numerous accusations of gruelling and unsafe working conditions in its warehouses.
An investigation by GMB last year revealed that ambulances were called out to Amazon warehouses 600 times during just three financial years, while 602 serious injuries and near misses were reported to the Health and Safety Executive.
Warehouse staff also reported working in agony and being denied toilet breaks, while one heavily pregnant woman was forced to work standing.
But Amazon hit back at the union, denying accusations of unsafe working conditions.
“Yet again, our critics seem determined to paint a false picture of what it’s like to work for Amazon. They repeat the same sensationalised, unsubstantiated allegations time and time again,” the company said in a statement.
“Safety is our priority and we are proud of the safe, modern workplaces we provide for our people.”
Amazon has said it will spend $500m (£375m) on staff bonuses over the Christmas period as it looks to stave off the risk of strikes over the crucial shopping period.
Full-time warehouse staff in the UK will receive £300, while part-time workers will be given £150.
Last year the GMB staged demonstrations on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in protest at the “appalling” treatment of Amazon workers.
Amazon has been one of the major winners of the coronavirus pandemic. The tech giant posted sales of nearly $100bn in the third quarter amid a surge in demand for online shopping.