Government must pressure Amazon over working conditions, unions say

Government must pressure Amazon over working conditions, unions say

Unions are calling on the UK government to exert pressure on Amazon over its working conditions after a report by the TUC claimed the retail giant had been awarded government and local authority contracts worth £630m since 2015.

The report, released on 12th October a day before Prime Day, said a large part of the contracts to create a digital marketplace for 13 local authorities in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, worth up to £400m. The firm has also had £23m in state-funded work since the coronavirus crisis started.

TUC chiefs say local authorities should introduce employment charters when buying services from companies such as Amazon, requiring firms to treat staff fairly and allow union access.

They also say the government must insist Amazon improves working conditions for staff, many of whom had been “key workers” since the pandemic began. A forthcoming employment bill would be a “golden opportunity” to demand unions are given access to workplaces, and that zero hours contracts are axed and joint liability laws strengthened to protect workers' rights, it said.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “If ministers are serious about improving lives they must help level up working conditions at places such as Amazon.

“Amazon workers have played a key role during this pandemic. But many are treated like disposable labour. That is not right. Public contracts should not reward bad working practices.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Over the last 10 years we’ve invested more than £23bn in the UK, and this year we announced plans to create another 10,000 new jobs by the end of 2020, taking our total UK workforce to over 40,000.
 
“Amazon is a safe place to work. 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 allegations time and time again.”