The GMB union is holding a series of protests outside Amazon warehouses this week to coincide with its Prime Day event.
Prime Day is a two-day summer sale this year, starting today (15th July), where Prime members get exclusive deals.
In the US, workers at a fulfilment centre in Shakopee, Minnesota are preparing to walkout for 48 hours, arguing the retail giant’s one-day shipping policy for Prime members places huge burdens on them.
There will also be a number of UK protests throughout the week, starting in Peterborough today, with further demos held at sites including Swansea, Warrington, Coventry, Doncaster and Milton Keynes.
The GMB's West Midlands organiser Amanda Gearing said there would be large demonstration outside the firm’s depot in Rugeley, Staffordshire, on 19th July. Employees from the facility, which has around 1,800 staff, have been invited to attend, along with Spanish workers who recently took industrial action of their own.
She said: “There are all sorts of issues around pay but the more important thing for our members is they really stressful environment in which they have to work.”
Gearing said high performance targets and crackdowns on “idle time” had left workers afraid to go to the toilet or speak to other colleagues. She said: “All of this creates issues around people’s mental health. There are a raft of other things but our main concern is health and safety.”
It is part of a wider GMB campaign which argues Amazon workers are treated like “robots” and often have accidents at work. The union said there had been 600 reports from Amazon warehouses to the Health and Safety Executive since 2015.
GMB national officer Mick Rix said: "We’re staging protests across Amazon sites up and down the country this Prime Day. The conditions our members work under at Amazon sites across the UK are appalling.
“The Rugeley site in particular is probably one of the most unsafe places to work in Britain - workers are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances.
“Amazon workers want Jeff Bezos to know they are people – not robots. It's time for him to show empathy with the very people that have helped to contribute to his vast and increasing personal fortune.
“It’s prime time for Amazon get round the table with GMB and discuss ways to make their workplaces safer, and to give their workers an independent voice. My phone is on and we at GMB are ready to hold those discussions with Amazon.”
A spokesman for Amazon UK said: “At Amazon our employees receive industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits, opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment. We encourage everyone to come and see for themselves what it’s really like to work for Amazon by taking a tour of one of our fulfilment centres."
He added: “Safety is our priority. In fact, according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive, we have over 40% fewer injuries compared to other transportation and warehousing businesses in the UK.”