THE GMB is presenting a giant Valentine’s card to the Amazon warehouse in Rugeley in the Midlands today to highlight the ‘brutal’ working conditions.
Workers have suffered convulsions, electric shocks, major traumas, get knocked unconscious and are taken away in ambulances, the GMB has reported.
Recent investigations by GMB revealed ambulances were called 115 times, including three for women due to pregnancy/maternity and three for major trauma.
In addition, 88 serious incidents have been reported to the health and safety executive since 2015.
GMB said: ‘Our Amazon members deserve better – and we won’t stop campaigning until they get it.’
Amanda Gearing, GMB Senior Organiser, said: ‘It may be Valentine’s Day but our members don’t get much love from Amazon.
‘The conditions are brutal; workers suffer convulsions, electric shocks, major traumas, get knocked unconscious and are taken away in ambulances.
‘This can’t go on – but Amazon refuses to meet with us so we can improve conditions for workers.
‘Our Amazon members deserve better – and we won’t stop campaigning until they get it.’
Lee Barron, TUC Midlands Regional Secretary, said: ‘The TUC will be proud to join GMB members and organisers at Amazon this week to show our support for the brave campaign of Amazon workers to secure the right to trade union recognition and the safety and dignity this affords.
‘The campaign at Amazon really is the front-line in the battle to secure basic rights and fairness in the ever changing world of work.
‘GMB is right; Amazon workers are not robots and deserve our respect and support.’
Meanwhile, cross-party opposition has emerged against a plan for Torbay Council to invest £15m in a new distribution warehouse near Exeter said to be for online retailer Amazon.
The council has been considering buying the new centre which is due to be built alongside the Lidl distribution warehouse on the Exeter Gateway site near the M5.
But after Liberal Democrats publicly raised concerns about the impact of the internet giant on traditional town centres, its working practices and tax record, the council’s Conservative group has revealed it is also against the investment plan.
A decision was taken by the authority’s Investment and Regeneration committee in private to investigate buying the centre.
Amazon has been linked to the site, but the business has refused to confirm it will be the tenant and a spokesman declined to comment on the issues raised by Torbay councillors.
The council has a £200m commercial property investment strategy to raise extra income to offset funding cuts.
Next year it is expected to bring in £3.6m to help run services, but the strategy is controversial with critics claiming it is high-risk.
The controversy over the Amazon deal follows concerns raised about the council’s recent £3m investment in a factory used to make Cornish pasties at Bodmin.
The council’s Conservative group leader Dave Thomas issued a statement ahead of a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, saying the committee was now unlikely to go ahead with the Amazon deal.
Cllr Thomas cited the impact of the online retailer on traditional high street traders, as well as echoing the Liberal Democrat concerns about the company’s corporate tax payment record.
He said investment decision had to meet guidelines and bring multiple benefits to the people of Torbay.
Investigations into the Amazon deal had raised issues which meant it was unlikely to go ahead as it did not have the support of the Conservative group.
Cllr Thomas said: ‘We are clear that if we do not invest, another investor will take our place and the Amazon scheme will still go ahead, however we are mindful of the views of our residents and feel that the council should not invest within a company that is currently causing so much damage to our high street and tax ethics that are still open to question.’
Torbay has seen cuts of £76m in government funding over the last seven years, and is looking for £17m of savings and extra income over the next three years.
The Conservative group is the largest on the authority but does not have a majority.
The council is run by an elected mayor and an executive of independent councillors, but that will change to a leader and cabinet system after local elections in May.
• New TUC analysis finds zero-hour workers do double the night shifts and are paid on average £4 an hour less than other workers
Monday marked the start of HeartUnions Week 2019, when trade union members across the Midlands will be promoting the things they do to help working people in the region.
This year HeartUnions Week will also campaign for a ban on zero-hours contracts.
Union leaders will commit to negotiate an end to zero-hour contracts in workplaces where they have recognition.
And an online petition will build public support for a ban.
The most recent official figures show that across the midlands there are 138,000 (East Mids 65,000, West Mids 73,000) people whose main job is a zero-hour contract.
But this is not by choice – a TUC poll found that that two-thirds of zero-hour workers prefer to be on permanent, secure contracts.
New TUC analysis published today shows that zero-hour workers are having a tougher time than those in secure employment on a range of measures.
Night shifts: Nearly a quarter (23%) of zero-hour contracts workers regularly do night shifts, compared to one in ten of the rest of the workforce.
Night-working has been linked to heart disease, shortened life expectancy and higher risk of cancer.
Lower wages: Zero-hours contract workers are on average paid around a third (£4.10) less an hour than other workers.
This is despite 12% of zero-hours workers being supervisors and managers.
Lack of work: One in seven zero-hour workers (16%) do not have work each week. And they work on average 25 hours a week, compared to average workers, who work for 36 hours a week.
Lee Barron, TUC Midlands Regional Secretary: ‘The vast majority of people on zero-hour contracts want out. The only flexibility offered to them is what’s good for employers.
‘Zero-hours workers regularly work through the night for low pay, putting their health at risk. And many face the constant uncertainty of not knowing when their next shift will come.
‘We need the government to stamp out these unfair contracts.
‘Working people in the Midlands need solid jobs, with guaranteed hours, to provide for a decent family life.’