Hundreds injured at Amazon warehouses in UK due to ‘hellish’ conditions, union claims

Major union calls for parliamentary inquiry into tech giant over treatment of workers

Conrad Duncan@theconradduncan
Tuesday 18 February 2020 19:30
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More than 600 people working in Amazon warehouses have been seriously injured or narrowly avoided an accident in the last three years, an investigation has found.

The GMB trade union, which revealed the figures, has called for a parliamentary inquiry into “hellish” conditions at warehouses run by the tech giant in the UK.

A Freedom of Information request by GMB found that between 2016/17 and 2018/19 a total of 622 reports have been made from Amazon warehouses to the Health and Safety Executive – a national watchdog for workplace safety.

The figures showed the number of incidents rose each year, with one case involving a worker who was knocked unconscious and stopped breathing.

Mick Rix, GMB’s national officer, has said the union has tried “over and over again” to get Amazon to improve safety for workers, without success.

“Amazon are spending millions on PR campaigns trying to persuade people its warehouses are great places to work,” Mr Rix said.

“But the facts are there for all to see - things are getting worse.

“Hundreds of stricken Amazon workers are needing urgent medical attention. Conditions are hellish.”

A number of Labour MPs, including leadership candidates Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey, have come out in support of the union’s call for a parliamentary inquiry into Amazon.

“The warehouse injuries suffered by Amazon workers are beyond appalling,” Ms Nandy said on Monday.

“We must never stay quiet in the face of injustice.”

Jack Dromey, the Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, said he could not remember any company recording so many injuries in his 30 years of working.

“I have been inside the giant Rugeley depot and heard first-hand from frightened workers of the 77 serious incidents in Rugeley alone,” Mr Dromey said.

“Amazon purports to be a 21st century company. It behaves like a 19th century mill-owner.”

In a statement, Amazon has said it is a safe place to work and dismissed criticisms of conditions in its warehouses.

“Yet again, our critics seem determined to paint a false picture of what it’s like to work for Amazon,” a spokesperson for the company said.

“They repeat the same sensationalised allegations time and time again."

They added: “Our doors are open to the public, to politicians, and indeed to anyone who truly wants to see the modern, innovative and, most importantly, safe environment we provide to our people.”

In 2019, Amazon invited customers to visit its warehouses in Milton Keynes and Peterborough in an effort to combat negative coverage of the company's working conditions.

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