Campaigners call for ‘action on Amazon’ as they launch whistle-blowing hotline for employees

UNION campaigners hoisted a giant banner calling for ‘action on Amazon’ in Portsmouth this morning (May 19).

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 4:49 pm
Members of Unite trade union call on Amazon to recognise unions in their business, pictured at Bath Square, Old Portsmouth. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 160521-01)

Campaigners say Amazon’s profits are tripling despite reports of union busting and poor employee treatment, and are now calling on the company to sign up to a declaration which would guarantee workers the freedom to talk with and form a union without fear.

Craig Callaghan, organiser for the south east region, said: ‘We were in the Portsmouth area raising awareness for Amazon workers.

‘Amazon is widely known as being incredibly anti-union so we’ve been going all over the country with this call to action for the workers. We want them to come forward, tell us about their experiences, and what they may have done wrong in the company.

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Campaigners hold up the banner. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 160521-02)

‘We want to know about these things, and we want Amazon to sign a neutrality statement to say they aren’t going to be anti-union any more - that they’re going to give UK workers their UK rights, to have trade union representation and to be able to contact a union without fear of being sacked.

‘Amazon is getting richer while workers are living in poverty conditions.’

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There are two Amazon sites in Segensworth.

However, an Amazon spokesperson said: ‘We respect our employees’ right to join, form, or not to join a labour union or other lawful organisation of their own selection, without fear of reprisal, intimidation, or harassment.

‘Across Amazon, including in our delivery stations, we place enormous value on having daily conversations with each associate and work to make sure direct engagement with our employees is a strong part of our work culture.

‘The fact is, we already offer excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment. The unions know this.’

Sharon Graham, Unite’s executive officer, said: ‘Amazon’s profits have tripled off the backs of workers who have been essential during the pandemic.

‘But the company continues to be plagued by reports of poor working conditions and anti-union tactics.

‘Amazon workers are not currently free to join a union without fear, and without obstruction and propaganda being deployed against them.

‘Workers have serious concerns about issues such as bullying, mandatory overtime, intense surveillance, break-neck production targets and much more besides.

‘Amazon workers need an independent voice to stand up against injustices in the workplace.

‘Unite has recently written to Jeff Bezos in response to claims from the company about respecting UK workers’ rights to join and form a union.

‘Our union is calling on the company to make a clear commitment and sign up to a declaration of neutrality.

‘The declaration would guarantee workers the freedom to talk with and form a union without fear.

‘If the company is genuine then it should be more than happy to sign the declaration.’

Unite has launched a confidential whistle-blowing hotline for Amazon workers, who can call 08000 141461 or visit actiononamazon.org/hotline.

Craig said: ‘Workers at Amazon can contact us confidentially and tell us about their working conditions.

‘We’re here and the only way that can push changes ahead is by hearing about your experiences.

‘The only way we can really hold Amazon accountable for their actions is by understanding what they’re doing in the workplace to breach workers rights.’

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