Unite, the largest trade union in the UK and Ireland, has opened a confidential whistle-blowing hotline for Amazon workers in Marston Gate, Ridgmont, Bedfordshire (LTN1 Milton Keynes Fulfilment Centre).
This is part of a national newspaper and digital Facebook advertising campaign to make Amazon workers aware that they can blow the whistle and expose poor treatment by calling 08000 141 461 or by visiting the Amazon Hotline.
The hotline coincides with the launch of the campaign alliance ‘Action on Amazon’ that is demanding a ‘new deal’ for Amazon workers, including a union and a greater share of the firm’s enormous profits.
On Wednesday (31 March 2021) campaigners projected images onto London landmarks to mark the launch of the nationwide campaign.
Unite said that against a backdrop of reports of poor working conditions, Amazon workers have been essential during the COVID crisis. Adding that the company increased its permanent workforce by one third (10,000) in 2020 as well as taking on 20,000 additional seasonal staff.
It also said Amazon almost doubled its profit in 2020 compared to 2019 and Jeff Bezos is now ranked the world’s richest man.
Unite also claimed that Amazon stops any attempts by workers to gain a collective voice of their own. Adding Amazon has refused to sign up to either the United Nations Global Compact or the Ethical Trading Initiative. Unite said that these bodies recognise the right of all workers to a collective voice and are signed up to by most of the biggest names on the high street.
The union is now calling on Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to sign up to a ‘new deal’, including commitments that recognise workers’ right to unionise. Unite executive officer, Sharon Graham, said:
“Unite has opened a confidential hotline for Amazon workers in Milton Keynes [sic] to blow the whistle on poor treatment and working practices.
“Amazon attacks all attempts by workers to gain a collective voice of their own. This is why Unite is launching ‘Action on Amazon’ to give Amazon workers a voice, so they don’t have to rely on whistle-blowing or calling confidential hotlines.
“Jeff Bezos has become the world’s richest man off the backs of workers who have played a crucial part in so many people’s lives during the pandemic. It is prime time Amazon gave workers in Milton Keynes [sic] the right to be in a Union and to do so without interference, bullying and intimidation.”
In a statement sent to the Chronicle, an Amazon spokesperson said:
“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.”