The GMB union is appealing to Co-operative members to support its aim of removing Amazon locker’s from the company’s stores as part of its fight for better pay and conditions for staff at the online retailer.
It said Amazon’s hostility towards unions meant it had to adopt “the tactics of the French resistance or human rights campaigns in totalitarian regimes” at Amazon depots.
Amazon and Co-operative Food teamed up in June 2012 to install collection lockers at a number of stores.
Customers ordering from Amazon can have items left in a locker convenient to them, as opposed to having their orders delivered to their homes or workplaces.
The GMB is calling on the Co-op to remove lockers from 160 stores across the country.
It has already raised the issue with the Co-op’s chief executive Richard Pennycook, the union said, and is now appealing to Co-op members.
Martin Smith, GMB national officer, said “We will intend take the issue to the wider membership of the Co-operative movement. Why it allows a competitor like Amazon floor space is hard to understand as Co-operative has a real cuckoo in the ethical nest.”
“Co-operative members need to know that union activity in the Amazon depots in UK has to be kept underground for fear of reprisals,” he continued. “So hostile are Amazon that union organisation is driven underground adopting the tactics of the French resistance or human rights campaigns in totalitarian regimes.
GMB need the support of Co-operative members to ensure that Amazon improves security of employment, treats workers fairly and pays them a wage they can live on in their distribution chain in the UK and elsewhere in the EU."
The GMB said the majority of Amazon’s 22,000 UK warehouse staff are paid £6.39 an hour, with permanent staff starting on £7 an hour. A spokesperson for Amazon said the figures were incorrect, with permanent employees starting at a minimum of £7.10 per hour increasing to a median of £8 per hour after 24 months.
The spokesperson added: "In addition, after one year all permanent associates receive stock grants which over the past five years have added an average of 12% to base pay annually. Other benefits for permanent employees include private medical insurance, a company pension plan, life assurance, income protection and an employee discount. Temporary associates earn more than 90% of Amazon permanent employees’ starting wages in their first 12 weeks. After this point, they receive the same pay as permanent associates."
Last year Lynne McManus, co-owner of Hale Bookshop in Cheshire, cited the lockers in the Co-op as one of the reasons behind the closure of the booksellers.
She said the partnership seemed to be “totally against” what Co-op stood for and “its ethics – valuing the high street and community”.
At that time, the Co-op, which has declined to comment on this latest story, told The Bookseller: "The Co-operative is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to improve the services we offer, and we are listening to our customers and adapting our services to meet their changing needs. The lockers have generally been well received, but we acknowledge some customers' concerns."