Hotline for workers set up amid Amazon union recognition dispute
- Credit: Unite
A message beamed onto Big Ben urged Amazon workers, including in Bromley-by-Bow, to “blow the whistle” on employment conditions.
Unite the union has launched a campaign with a confidential freephone hotline for workers at the company’s east London distribution depot and other centres around Britain.
The campaign started with a message reading “action on Amazon” projected onto iconic London landmarks like the Houses of Parliament on March 31.
It is calling for union recognition for collective wage bargaining and a bigger share in company profits, which have doubled during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have opened a confidential hotline to blow the whistle on any poor treatment and working practices,” Unite’s executive officer Sharon Graham said.
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“This is a campaign to give workers a voice, so they shouldn’t have to rely on whistleblowing or calling confidential hotlines.”
But the whistleblowing appeal is going ahead because the union claims “all attempts by workers to gain a collective voice of their own have been attacked”.
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Sharon added: “The workers have played a crucial part in so many people’s lives during the pandemic.
"It's time Amazon gave those in east London and elsewhere the right to be in a union without interference.”
Employees can “expose poor treatment free from reprisals” by calling 08000-141461 or visiting https://actiononamazon.org/hotline/
The company insists that it offers “competitive wages” starting at £9.70 or £10.80 an hour, depending on location.
Their spokesman said: “We would encourage anyone to compare this to the wages and benefits offered by other retailers. The fact is that we already offer our employees excellent pay, benefits and opportunities for career growth working in a safe environment.”
Amazon workers have been essential during the Covid crisis, with the company increasing its workforce by a third in 2020 - some 10,000 new permanent staff and 20,000 additional seasonal staff.
The spokesperson said the new roles help to meet customer demand and "support small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon".
Profits doubled during the first lockdown compared to 2019, the union points out, with owner Jeff Bezos “now ranked the world’s richest man”.
The union wants Amazon to sign up to the UN Global Compact or the Ethical Trading Initiative, which recognise “the right of workers to a collective voice” and to which many high street retail names have already signed up.