Unite launch whistle-blowing hotline for Amazon's Scottish workers

Campaigners are set to unfurl a banner at Edinburgh Castle today as part of Unite the Union’s ‘Action on Amazon’ campaign launch.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 12:29 pm

As part of the campaign a confidential whistle-blowing line has also been set up by Unite for Amazon workers to speak out against abuse in Scotland.

The union has also launched a national newspaper and digital Facebook advertising campaign to alert Amazon workers that they can blow the whistle and expose poor treatment free from reprisal by calling 08000 141 461 or visiting: actiononamazon.org/hotline/.

And as well as unfurling a giant banner at Edinburgh Castle today; campaigners will also produce a banner at George Square in Glasgow at 2pm to mark the launch of the campaign.

Dunfermline is home to a major Amazon fulfilment centre and the union say that the campaign is aimed at securing a ‘new deal’ for workers at the centre as well as other centres across the UK including other Scottish bases in Gourock, Inverclyde and at Bathgate in West Lothian.

Unite hopes that a ‘new deal’ will include a union and a greater share of Amazon’s enormous profits.

The campaign is being launched at a time when poor working conditions for Amazon workers are being placed at the forefront of media coverage in the Western world.

Just last week it was reported that Amazon workers are being forced to urinate in bottles and defecate in bags in the US due to working conditions and time constraints.

Amazon warehouse

Unite says that the online retail giant has stopped any attempts by workers to gain a collective voice of their own.

They say Amazon has failed to sign up to either the United Nations Global Compact or the Ethical Trading Initiative – two bodies that recognise the right of all workers to a collective voice and are signed up to by most of the biggest names on the high street.

This has led to Unite ramping up the pressure on the company as Amazon has increased their workforce by one third - 10,000 - in 2020.

The union adds that Amazon has almost doubled their profits in 2020 from 2019 and that Jeff Bezos is now ranked the world’s richest man.

They are now calling on Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to sign up to a ‘new deal’, including commitments that recognise workers’ right to unionise.

Sharon Graham, Unite executive officer, said: “Unite has opened a confidential hotline for Amazon workers in Scotland to blow the whistle on poor treatment and working practices.

"Amazon attacks all attempts by workers to gain a collective voice of their own. This is why Unite is launching ‘Action on Amazon’ to give Amazon workers a voice, so they don’t have to rely on whistle-blowing or calling confidential hotlines.

“Jeff Bezos has become the world’s richest man off the backs of his workers who have played a crucial part in so many people’s lives during the pandemic. It is prime time Amazon gave workers in Scotland the right to be in a Union and to do so without interference, bullying and intimidation.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “The fact is we already offer our employees excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment.

"Our competitive wages start at £9.70 or £10.80 per hour depending on location, and we’d encourage anyone to compare this to the wages and benefits offered by other retailers.”

A spokesperson for Amazon said: “The fact is we already offer our employees excellent pay, excellent benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment.

"Our competitive wages start at £9.70 or £10.80 per hour depending on location, and we’d encourage anyone to compare this to the wages and benefits offered by other retailers.

"We’re proud to have created 10,000 new permanent roles across the UK in 2020, taking our total permanent UK workforce to more than 40,000. Our people have played a critical role in serving customers in these unprecedented times and the new roles help us continue to meet customer demand and support small and medium sized businesses selling on Amazon."

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