Amazon under fire for 'refusal' to pay Scottish real living wage

Amazon under fire for 'refusal' to pay Scottish real living wage

Amazon is under scrutiny for its apparent reluctance to sign up to the Scottish government’s "fair work" programme and pay employees the Scottish real living wage. 

Amazon's "refusal" to pay its workers the Scottish real living wage persists a year after ministers were told it would consider increasing wages, according to The Times, after the newspaper obtained details of meetings between ministers and Amazon managers through freedom of information law.

While staff pay at Amazon in Scotland generally starts at £7.65 an hour, under the fair work initiative employees would have to be paid £8.75 and be given more rights.

The paper said a meeting took place in March 2016 between Amazon and Roseanna Cunningham, then minister for fair work, with minutes from the meeting showing the company was told it was "at risk of considerable damage to its reputation" over the matter and other reports of "poor employment practices". The claims made against Amazon include, among others, that employees would be fired if they were off work for four days, and fines would be imposed for even a single minute's lateness.

The cabinet secretary for fair work, Keith Brown, also met with Amazon managers in December last year, with minutes from this meeting saying the e-commerce giant had agreed to "look into it". 

“Amazon explained that [adopting the living wage] was not a decision they could take locally and would have to be subject of a national agreement by their senior management. They agreed to look into it,” the minutes read, reported The Times.

The Scottish government, which is shown to have given Amazon funding to the tune of £5.3m for job creation in Scotland, said talks with the e-commerce giant about the issue are still in progress.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "Amazon has brought a significant number of jobs to Scotland, but the Scottish government wants to ensure these jobs are of good quality and provide pay rates in keeping with our ambition to see the real living wage replace the national minimum wage."

A spokesman for Amazon said: "Amazon is proud to be a significant contributor to the economy in Scotland, including investing hundreds of millions of pounds in our Scottish operations over the past five years and today supporting around 2,500 competitively paid jobs at our development centre and customer service centre in Edinburgh, and fulfilment centres in Gourock and Dunfermline."