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Warehouse workers in need of better rights

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on the government to bring forward its new employment bill which promises to protect and enhance workers’ rights after the UK leaves the European Union on 1 January.

The recommendation comes after scathing findings of the union centre’s analysis of Amazon warehouse employees’ salaries and poor working conditions.

Not only are Amazon warehouse employees working under bad conditions, but their wage is infinitely smaller compared to that of CEO Jeff Bezos.

Using his 2019 earnings, an Amazon warehouse employee would have to work over five weeks to earn what Bezos makes in a second.

This year, the hours worked by an employee rose to over eight weeks, or 293 hours, to earn what the CEO makes in a second.

Despite the company’s huge profits, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said that Amazon staff will continue to work in “gruelling, exploitative conditions.

“Amazon workers have played a key role during this pandemic. The very least they deserve is dignity at work,” she said.

Workers at Amazon have described gruelling conditions, unrealistic productivity targets, surveillance, fake self-employment and a refusal to recognise or engage with unions unless forced.

According to the GMB Union, between 2015 and 2018, ambulances were called out 600 times to 14 Amazon warehouses in Britain due to workers collapsing in unsafe, high-pressure working conditions.

The TUC has called for unions to be allowed into every workplace, a ban on zero hours contracts, stronger joint liability laws to protect supply chain workers’ rights and an end to the ‘bogus’ self-employment.

O’Grady added: “If the government is serious about levelling up Britain, it needs to start by levelling up pay and conditions.

“Ministers must get on with bringing forward the long-awaited employment bill to end exploitative working practices like zero hours contracts and boost rights and pay.”

Further reading:

Women at higher risk of job loss as retail moves to warehouses

Company wellbeing cannot just be an HR issue

Amazon workers fight 'most high-profile gig economy case'