Giant banners launched today to protest about working conditions at Amazon in Milton Keynes

Members of Unite are calling for Amazon to allow its workers to form a union

By Sally Murrer
Thursday, 6th May 2021, 3:48 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 3:50 pm

Protestors unfurled giant banners at CMK and the Stadium MK today calling for Amazon to give its workers freedom to talk and form a union "without fear".

The move was organised by Unite union and follows Amazon's recent report that its profits tripled in the first quarter of this year, during lockdown.

Now Unite, which is Britain's biggest union, is accusing the online shopping giant of "poor working conditions and ant-union tactics."

One of the protest banners

But Amazon bosses insist they already offer "excellent" pay of up to £10.80 an hour, as well as excellent benefits and opportunities for its workers.

Unite is not satisfied though and is calling on Amazon to sign a 'declaration of neutrality'

In the first three months of this year the company, which employs hundreds of people at its MK fulfilment centre, has reported profit of £5.8 billion, compared to £1.8 billion) the year before.

Unite has launched a confidential whistle-blowing hotline which has opened in the UK and Ireland.

The union's executive officer, Sharon Graham said: “Amazon’s profits have tripled off the backs of workers who have been essential during the pandemic. But the company continues to be plagued by reports of poor working conditions and anti-union tactics.

"Amazon workers are not currently free to join a union without fear, and without obstruction and propaganda being deployed against them. Workers have serious concerns about issues such as bullying, mandatory overtime, intense surveillance, break-neck production targets and much more besides. Amazon workers need an independent voice to stand up against injustices in the workplace.

"Unite has recently written to Jeff Bezos in response to claims from the company about respecting UK workers’ rights to join and form a union. Our union is calling on the company to make a clear commitment and sign up to a declaration of neutrality. The declaration would guarantee workers the freedom to talk with and form a union without fear. If the company is genuine then it should be more than happy to sign the declaration."

A spokesman for Amazon told the Citizen: “The fact is we already offer our employees excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment.

"Our competitive wages start at £9.70 or £10.80 per hour depending on location, and we’d encourage anyone to compare this to the wages and benefits offered by other retailers.

"We’re proud to have created 10,000 new permanent roles across the UK in 2020, taking our total permanent UK workforce to more than 40,000. Our people have played a critical role in serving customers in these unprecedented times and the new roles help us continue to meet customer demand and support small and medium sized businesses selling on Amazon."