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TUC calls on Yorkshire council leaders to help improve working conditions at Amazon

The TUC has today (Monday) called on Yorkshire council leaders to work with unions on improving working conditions at Amazon.

  • Union body launches Prime Day call for better working conditions
  • New research reveals huge local and national government spending on internet giant, including in the Yorkshire and Humber region
  • TUC says local authorities should introduce employment charters when purchasing services
  • Tech giant is still refusing to recognise unions

The call comes as joint TUC and GMB union research reveals the huge public sector spending on the internet giant nationwide, including in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Amazon was awarded national and local government contracts with a lifetime value worth up to £630 million between 2015 and 2020. This includes a framework agreement with the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation to create a digital marketplace for 13 local authorities in the region which is worth up to £400m.

The TUC says that local authorities should introduce employment charters when buying services from companies like Amazon which require firms to treat their staff fairly and give access to unions, and report on these requirements to ensure accountability.

Amazon has a 400,000 square ft fulfilment centre in Doncaster, as well as sites in Leeds and Sheffield. It is also planning to open a new site in Hull.

Prime Day

Tomorrow 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.

In just over three years, ambulances were called out 600 times to 14 Amazon warehouses in Britain due to workers collapsing in unsafe, intense working conditions.

Employment bill

The TUC says in addition to local authority action the government must take a lead and insist that Amazon improve working conditions for staff – many of whom have been key workers during the pandemic.

The union body says the forthcoming employment bill is a ‘golden opportunity’ for ministers to clamp down on the poor working practices rife in workplaces like Amazon’s and strengthen trade unions and collective bargaining. 

The TUC is calling for: 

  • giving unions access to workplaces
  • the banning of zero hours contracts
  • strengthening joint liability laws to protect supply chain workers’ rights
  • ending bogus self-employment

TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams said:

“We recognise that councils are under huge pressure at the moment and that Amazon can provide services on a huge scale. Government austerity has left local authorities with little choice.

“But the way the company treats its staff and refuses to recognise unions is not right.

“We stand ready to work with local authority leaders to help develop employment charters. Amazon employs hundreds/thousands of workers in this region. They deserve to be treated with dignity at work.”

Amazon’s growth in the UK continues. The firm recently announced that it will create another 7,000 jobs in the UK, including 970 in Yorkshire, to meet increased demand of warehouse and distribution jobs. 

Trade Unions across Europe, including UK unions GMB, Usdaw and CWU have recently called on the European commission to open an investigation into Amazon's ‘potentially illegal’ surveillance of workers' union activities. 

Editors Note

  • The TUC will today (Monday) host an event ‘Challenging Amazon – What can we do about Amazon's treatment of workers?’  to discuss Amazon’s exploitative business model. The panel will feature discussion from Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, UNI Global General Secretary, Mick Rix, National Organizer at GMB Union, Stacy Mitchell from US organization The Institute of Local Self Reliance and Tim Bray, a former Vice President at Amazon.
  • The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

Contacts:

TUC Press Office
Gareth Forest (Lewis)

glewis@tuc.org.uk

0113 200 1075
07810 374976

For calls over the weekend:

Bill Adams

07867 788856

badams@tuc.org.uk

 

Original article link: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-calls-yorkshire-council-leaders-help-improve-working-conditions-amazon

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