Amazon accused of treating its UK warehouse workers like robots
Amazon has been accused of treating its UK warehouse staff like robots. Between 2015 and 2018, ambulances were called out close to 600 times to Amazon’s UK warehouses. A Freedom of Information request to ambulance services from the GMB union revealed 115 call-outs to Amazon’s site in Rugeley, near Birmingham, including three related to pregnancy or maternity related problems and three for major trauma. At least 1800 people work year-round at the Rugeley warehouse and more than 2000 more can work over the peak Christmas period.
Amazon said it was “simply not correct to suggest that we have unsafe working conditions based on this data or on unsubstantiated anecdotes. Requests for ambulance services at our fulfilment centres are predominantly associated with personal health events and are not work related. Nevertheless, ambulance visits at our UK fulfilment centres last year was 0.00001 per worked hour, which is dramatically low.” A spokesperson also said that, according to the Health and Safety Executive’s method of reporting injuries, Amazon had 43% fewer injuries on average than other companies conducting transportation and warehousing activities in the UK.
In contrast, the GMB claimed that four-fifths of the 200 union members working for the American firm who had responded to a survey said they suffered pain as a result of their workload with one pregnant woman complaining she had been forced to stand for her entire 10-hour shift. Mick Rix, a GMB national officer, said the union had also been told of a woman who suffered a miscarriage while working, which she believed was partly as a result of continuous pressure to hit targets. The incident was discussed in a private briefing with GMB-affiliated MPs in parliament earlier this month. When asked about these allegations, Amazon said: “We don’t recognise these allegations as an accurate portrayal of activities in our buildings.”
Author: Sarah Butler Publication: The Guardian
Publication Date: May 31, 2018