Fresh workforce controversy for Amazon

Fresh workforce controversy for Amazon

Amazon has faced fresh allegations about its treatment of workers after an investigation of conditions at its warehouse in Rugely.

Channel 4 News found that employees at the East Midlands warehouse were given zero-hour contracts and only had a 30-minute lunch break every 10-hour shift, 20 minutes of which were spent walking to the canteen and back.

According to the broadcaster, who spoke to 12 former employees at the warehouse, workers also had their movements monitored by GPS trackers and were searched airport style before going into the canteen to see if they'd stolen anything.

The warehouse was also said to have operated on a "three strikes and you're out" basis, with employees given "strikes" for behaviour such as talking to colleagues, spending too long in the bathroom or taking sick leave.

A former worker for the Ranstad agency, which supplied staff to Amazon, claimed that the company instructed the agency not to alert staff to the fact they were owed holiday pay, so they could save hundreds of pounds. Andrew Kingsley said: "I think it was very underhand and devious to tell people not to claim money that they'd earned. It was left down to the agency reps to instruct the associates as to what their next step was."

In response to the allegations, Amazon said it employs over 4,500 permanent employees in the UK and has invested over a £1 billion pounds in Rugely. The online retailer said: "All our agencies are contractually obliged to pay holiday pay and that is accounted for in the amounts we pay to agencies. We continue to listen to feedback from associates, as well as customers, in order to learn, innovate and improve and are proud of being part of the Rugeley community."

In February, the GMB Union ran a series of protests at warehouses across the country against poor treatment of staff, and low pay. The Union said the company deserved "a corporate ASBO" for its behaviour.