Hard-pressed Amazon workers in Scotland sleeping in tents near warehouse to save money

Employees say they can not afford to travel to work so brave freezing temperatures and sleep in woods

Benjamin Kentish
Saturday 10 December 2016 22:05 GMT
Workers said they were sleeping in woods near the warehouse to save money on transport
Workers said they were sleeping in woods near the warehouse to save money on transport

Amazon workers in Scotland have resorted to sleeping in tents near the company’s warehouse in a desperate attempt to save money.

At least three tents have been pitched in woodland near the M90 motorway in Dunfermline, Fife - close to one of the retail giant’s "fulfilment centres".

Employees are braving sub-zero temperatures to save money on travel costs so they can continue working for the company, which does not pay staff a living wage.

Critics said Amazon should be “ashamed” and demanded it raise workers’ wages to enable them to commute from their homes.

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: “Amazon should be ashamed that they pay their workers so little that they have to camp out in the dead of winter to make ends meet.

“Amazon need to take a long, hard look at themselves and change their ways.

“They pay a small amount of tax and received millions of pounds from the SNP Government so the least they should do is pay the proper living wage.

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“The fares the company charge for transport swallow up a lot of the weekly wage which is forcing people to seek ever more desperate ways of making work pay.“

Temperatures have dropped to -7C in the area in recent days, raising fears about the welfare of the workers. Around 1,500 permanent staff are employed at the Fife facilty, while temporary workers are also hired to meet demand in the run-up to Christmas.

According to The Courier, the campers said they could not afford to travel to the facility from their homes in Perth. One described Amazon as a “poor employer”.

However, a spokesperson for Amazon said: “Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace. The safety and wellbeing of our permanent and temporary associates is our number one priority.

“We are also proud to have been able to create several thousand new permanent roles in our UK fulfilment centres over the last five years.

“We pay competitive wages — all permanent and temporary Amazon associates start on £7.35 an hour or above regardless of age and £11 an hour and above for overtime.”

Special buses are laid on by private companies to transport workers to the facility but fares cost up to £10 per day – the equivalent of more than an hour’s pay.

Amazon has repeatedly come under fire for its treatment of workers. Staff claimed to have been fined for returning one minute late after a lunch break and made to work four days in a row without sleep. One woman with breast cancer alleged she was put on a “performance improvement plan" and told her “personal life” was interfering with her work.

The company, which was founded by entrepreneur Jeff Bezos in 1994 and now has a global value of £290 billion, has also been accused of dodging tax after paying just £9.8 million in tax on profits in the UK despite raking in £6.3 billion from UK sales.

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