More than 40,000 people have signed a petition calling for Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos to pay agency warehouse staff the Living Wage.
The current UK legal minimum wage is £6.31 an hour but the according to the Living Wage Foundation, the Living Wage rates - set annually by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University and the Greater London Authority - are £7.65 an hour for the UK and £8.80 for London.
The Change.org petition was started just two days ago by ShareAction employee Emily Kenway, who wrote “this Christmas, Amazon has taken on nearly 15,000 extra agency staff to deal with the Christmas shopping rush. But many of them won't earn enough to buy the bare essentials of life.”
She cited policies such as monitoring and timing toilet breaks, giving workers 15 minute breaks that start wherever they are in giant warehouses and a ‘sack if you’re sick policy’ which sees workers let go if they are sick three times in three months as “disgusting”.
The petition said: “Amazon has more than enough money to pay its workers (both permanent employees and contracted agency workers) the Living Wage. This is the wage needed to support a basic standard of living. With UK sales in 2012 of £4.2billion, you'd think Amazon could afford to pay its workers enough to be able to feed and clothe themselves and their families. Amazon is an enormously successful company. This petition calls on Amazon to recognise the humanity of its workers and their very real needs.”
In response, Amazon sent a link to a page which said new members of staff receive a median wage of £7.05 which tends to increase to £8.02 after 24 months. Seasonal employees earn 90% of the starting wage of Amazon's permanent staff, while 95% of seasonal employees also work a 40-hour week, according to the page.
Meanwhile, a German union backing Amazon employees has vowed staff will fight into the next year for fairer employment rights.
Verdi union representative Joerg Lauenroth-Mago told Reuters: “We will continue to strike, also next year, but I won't say when and where exactly that will happen.”
Hundreds of workers in Amazon's logistic centers in Bad Hersfeld and Leipzig have been on strike since Monday (16th December) in a dispute over pay which has been raging for months. The action is due to end on Saturday 21st December.
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